Children, especially toddlers and preschoolers, love to explore new things with their hands and mouths. But most of the toys available in the market, especially the plastic ones, contain toxins. Plastic toys that contain PVC and BPA are neither good for your child nor environmentally sustainable.
An article on Scientific American’s website titled ‘Just How Harmful Are Bisphenol A Plastics?’ was published in 2008. The article stated, ”In recent years dozens of scientists around the globe have linked BPA to myriad health effects in rodents: mammary and prostate cancer, genital defects in males, early onset of puberty in females, obesity and even behavior problems such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.”
Phthalates are added to plastic to soften it and make it pliable to make toys and bottles. The Times of India published an article on its website in 2010 titled ‘Majority of toys in Indian market contain toxic chemical: Study’. This article revealed shocking facts about the use of phthalates. It reported that a study by the Delhi-based NGO Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on toys available in India ”showed that even toys marked as safe for infants and toddlers were found to contain dangerous levels of the chemicals.” According to the study ‘What’s wrong with PVC? The science behind a phase-out of polyvinyl chloride plastics’ published on greenpeace.org in 1997, ”attempting to bury waste PVC is not a sensible or sustainable option.”
There are other harmful hidden ingredients found in toys like lead (in paints), arsenic and mercury, to name a few.
It is important to choose toys that are safe and bio-degradable. So, eco-friendly toys are your best bet. Here are a few suggestions on what kind of eco-friendly toys to pick for your preschooler.
1. Wooden toys
Wooden toys are a better alternative than plastic ones. Make sure you use sustainable wooden toys that have been painted using lead-free colors. A good example of safe wooden toys would be Channapatna toys. These handmade toys from Karnataka are painted using natural vegetable dyes. And wooden toys offer a bonus – due to their longevity, they can be handed down to your grandchildren as well!
2. Recycled paper beads
For preschoolers, a good activity would be making recycled paper beads using old magazines or wrapping paper. There are many online video tutorials that teach this craft. These beads can be used to make various ornaments or wall hangings. There are bead-making kits available online as well. These are not only safe for the child but are also environmentally sustainable.
3. Eco-friendly Modelling clay
Preschoolers love to create various things out of modeling clay. Check whether the clay is free of PVC and dyes that contain lead and reusable. You can make your own playdough using flour, salt, oil, water and non-toxic food coloring.
4. Soft blocks
Children love all things soft and squishy. Soft blocks made of organic cotton and stuffed with natural fibers are your best bet when it comes to soft blocks.
5. Rag dolls
Rag dolls are generally handmade using scraps of cloth. These are soft toys and are suitable for preschoolers.
6. DIY puppets
Have colorful socks, paper bags or scrap fabrics at home? Then it is time to make puppets! Making your puppets is not only safe and sustainable but also helps your preschooler participate in pretend play.
The next time you buy toys for your preschooler or give them as gifts to other children, choose eco-friendly ones. They come with a whole lot of benefits – they are safe for the child to play with, last longer than regular toys and do not pollute the environment.