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6 May 2014

Wooden Toys Versus Plastic Toys

If you take a field trip to your closest landfill, you will undoubtedly be saddened by what you see. The realities of mass produced cheap plastic toys stacked high in a landfill is a sobering experience. It can also be a good lesson to take your older children along so they can understand why you don't want to buy them plastic toys -- in this case, a picture truly IS worth a 1000 words.

Almost all landfills have an abundant supply of discarded plastic toys that no one wants to play with anymore. No one wants to fix old plastic toys once they break. They'd rather just toss them in the trash. No one cares enough about plastic toys to pass them on to the next generation. On the other hand, you'll never see natural wooden toys accumulating in the landfill because people bond with wooden toys in a way they never do with plastic toys.
Once plastic toys land in the landfill, they sit there leaching out the poisons embedded in the plastic. As it rains on the landfill, these plastic toxins get carried into the substrate where they percolate down deep into the ground water. From there, they are carried directly into the water we drink, the streams and rivers that give us fish and refill our reservoirs, and ultimately the ocean where they get spread all over the planet.

Plastic toys in the landfill NEVER biodegrade!!! Even if they are covered up out of sight and/or compacted, they will remain there leaching out toxins for thousands of years! To make matters worse, plastics are made from petroleum, a completely unsustainable material of highly limited supply. It takes quite literally millions of years for the Earth to make more petroleum, so once it's gone, don't even think we have any chance of replacing it in the foreseeable future. 

Do you want to know why toxic plastic toys never biodegrade?
In order for a substance to biodegrade, and thus recycle the raw materials that make up that substance back into the earth, it must first be eaten by microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. Wood is a natural organic substance so if you were to toss a wooden toy into the landfill (almost no one does because they become more valuable over time unlike plastic toys!), it would biodegrade because the microorganisms would feed on the wood and break it down. However, plastic toys just sit there untouched by microorganisms, and while they do so, just continue to leach out their toxins into the water column!

Warning: Don't be fooled by the so called "biodegradable plastics" they are putting into the market now. These plastics do NOT biodegrade in the real sense of microorganisms eating them and breaking them down into raw materials. Instead, they simply break down into increasingly smaller plastic particles! In this process, they actually leach out toxins faster!

      Discarded plastic toys in the landfill

Discover eco toys - made of natural materials and painted with non-toxic colours.

Besides the never-ending evil unleashed on our environment by discarded plastic toys, what about what they do to our kids before they are tossed?!?!

What harm can come to a child who plays with a toxic plastic toy?
Every plastic toy should come with a skull and cross bone warning label because the toxins that they contain are so incredible bad for our children. To use the vernacular of the kids today, these toxins are "scary bad!" Not only do they penetrate the skin of our children, they enter their systems even more directly as they chew on their toxic plastic toys.

What kind of toxic chemicals are being released into your children and the environment through plastic toys? Here are some prime examples:

1. Heavy metals including cadmium and lead! Yes, plastic toys contain heavy metals, among the most poisonous substances on Earth!

2. Bisphenol A (BPA), a deadly carcinogen. This toxic chemical has been banned in the production of baby bottles and children's sippy cups but not in the production of plastic toys even though it is well known that children often put their toys in their mouths!

3. Plasticizers such as phthalate that disrupt the endocrine system and thus cause cascading deleterious health effects. These are the class of chemicals that turn hard plastics into softer plastics, such as the type of plastic you might find in a rubber duck. Some plasticizers have been banned but others have not been. It's important to know too that plasticizers leach out even faster than other toxins found in plastics. Think about this the next time you see your little girl chewing on her plastic doll or you see your little boy chewing on his rubber football.

Buying sustainable wooden toys instead of toxic plastic toys for your kids is a great way to make a conscious decision to simultaneously protect your children and the environment for future generations of children, including your own grandchildren and great-grandchildren!

Just so you know, we offer a wide variety of eco-friendly wooden toys at greenBee. We are proud of the fact that all of our wooden toys are made from sustainably harvested wood. Additionally, they are either left unfinished or painted with food grade non-toxic paints.

Parents and Grandparents are often more eco-conscious than those adults without children because they see the future of the planet every time they watch their children and grandchildren play. It is truly heart-warming to watch a child pull a wooden alligator and hear them giggle as it clicks along. When their little girls play house with wooden dishes and wooden foods, parents can take comfort in knowing they aren't being subjected to toxins if they should stick one of their wooden toys in their mouth. Likewise, the same is true watching little boys play with their wooden train sets. Parents and Grandparents know they have spared the environment the toxins that would have been released into the environment when they buy sustainable wooden toys instead of plastic toys.

Finally, if a field trip to the landfill doesn't convince you of the evils of plastic toys, try this: drive around your neighborhood a month of two after the next holiday season, or after someone moves, and take a look at how many plastic toys are discarded compared to how many wooden toys get tossed. Kids treasure their wooden toys much more than the cheap plastic ones. Even after they outgrow them, they seem to want to keep them around for sentimental reasons. In fact, they often end up being given to their own children! 

Nothing is more eco-friendly than this!