Eco-Friendly Holiday Toys for Babies and Kids

Savannah Walsh Green Blog, a bunch of kids playing with eco-friendly toys.

Savannah Walsh shares her passion for “green” and sustainable toys—and why having 5 kids has made her look at her family’s ecological footprint more closely.

MyRegistry contributing writer Savannah Walsh is a Canadian blogger, a mom of five little ones, and the face behind That Caffeinated Mom, where she talks pregnancy, birth, and everyday mom life in her own relatable and very candid storytelling style.


If you read my blog last month (Baby’s First Christmas Wish List Made Easy) you know that we try to keep clutter as minimal as possible in our house. It began about a year ago, when I started the journey of attempting to become more intentional and minimalist about our house and belongings. I started noticing how many things we were being given that were, sadly, not useful for us and became just a part of the clutter building up around the house. When I started developing this more minimalist mindset, I started really focusing on our ecological footprint.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: ​Savannah, y’all have five children, you can’t really be that concerned about the environment. ​But I would say having multiple children has made me look at our ecological footprint more closely than a lot of people with smaller families. Because we do have so many people in our family, I feel it’s my duty to be as responsible and kind to our world as I can be. We make more garbage, we consume more food, we use more electricity, and we definitely take up more space. As those are all things that I can’t do tons about, I am intentional and thoughtful about the things I can​ do something about.

I found that a lot of things around my house were easy to make changes with: Not using plastic bags, only reusable. Ensuring that we compost and recycle everything we can. But there was one area of my house that was just the doom and gloom of our ecological footprint… the playroom.

Okay, I want you to stop for a minute before you think how dramatic I am.

Can you, right now, without looking, list 10 toys you own that come from a sustainable material?
And can you name 10 toys you own that are made from plastic and have batteries?

Can you name five toys you own that are made ethically?
And can you name five toys you own that are made in China or India?

Can you name three toys you own that are intended for complete open-ended play?
And can you name three toys you own that are specifically marketed for one theme/area of play?

I bet you the first question in each set was harder to answer than the second. They most certainly were for me.

So I decided I wanted to change that. I wanted to improve our standards for the toys our children play with, but I had no idea where I would end up. I was starting to discover a new fire in me and a new passion. A passion and love for ethical and sustainable toys, which I’m so excited to share with you all.

To explain a little bit about what I mean, let’s start with some of the basics.

What makes a toy a “green” toy?

Well, that simple question doesn’t come with a simple answer. There are many contributing factors that go into making a toy green or environmentally friendly. Being made from sustainable materials is the first thing that will make a toy green. Wood, wool, felt, and paper are some examples of eco-friendly toy materials.

Does a toy have to be made from sustainable materials to be considered green or ecologically friendly?

That depends who you ask. To me? No, it doesn’t. There are a lot of different ways a toy can be a green toy. If it’s a toy that will last years and years and won’t have to be replaced, that’s a greener option. If it’s a toy that can be used by multiple kids, that’s also a greener option. If it’s an open-ended play toy, that makes it a much greener option.

Wait... what is open-ended play?

My favorite part of chatting about toys is chatting about open-ended play options! Open-ended toys are toys that can be played with in no way and every way. They aren’t targeting a specific theme like Paw Patrol or Peppa Pig. They aren’t aimed at specific ages or genders. They are simple toys that can be made into whatever your child imagines them to be, and makes them be, through their own play.

Okay, that's pretty cool... but how does that make a toy more green?

Because you buy way fewer toys! When a toy is branded toward a certain theme or a certain way of play, that toy usually becomes pointless once that theme isn’t popular anymore, or once your child outgrows that kind of play. Siblings’ play preference can be vastly different, making passing down toys a challenge! With open-ended play options. those problems become much smaller. With open-ended toys, a block can be a tree and a car in the same hour, so instead of 10 different toys, I have one toy that my children’s imagination turns into 10. And that right there is my favorite part of open-ended play—the opportunity for building your child's imagination organically is huge!

Maybe you’re thinking, Okay, I can get on board with open-ended play options and shopping toys made from more sustainable materials, but some of these toys are really expensive!

And that’s exactly what I thought when I started this journey as well… “These prices are ridiculous!” and “Why would I pay that when I can find basically the same thing from a knock-off brand on Amazon?”

So, here’s the thing with the higher prices for more ethical and sustainable toys. You’re paying for:

  • Ethical wages and working environments. And sadly that comes with a price! It’s super important to me to know that my children are playing with toys that aren’t made by children! Toys that are made in factories where employees have fair and good working conditions and are paid a liveable wage. And to me that’s worth the price difference.
  • Sustainable materials. Most plastic toys are really cheap to produce. Why? They’re coming from massive factories that mass produce these products using machines and energy sources that are far from sustainable. (Not to mention how long some plastics take to break down in a landfill.) Toys made with higher-quality materials aren’t as cheap!
  • Safe and tested materials. A lot of higher-end ethical/sustainable toys use incredibly safe and tested materials, such as water-based paints and stains. These types of materials usually come in smaller batches and are not mass produced in the same way as a lot of the generics.
  • Handcrafted items. A lot of higher-end toys are partially or fully handcrafted. These toys aren’t being made on a conveyor belt, they’re being made and inspected by individual people, fully or partially by hand!
  • Smaller business model. If we’ve learned nothing else through the madness of 2020, we’ve learned to support our local and smaller businesses better. The majority of the higher-end ethical and sustainable toys come out of small businesses. Your purchase is helping to support a family and a dream!

My love for ethical and sustainable toys is huge and contagious! I could talk all day, every day, about why everyone should switch over to green toys! However, I’m also more than aware that shopping ethically and sustainably comes from a place of privilege. Do not feel that if you can’t afford to get rid of all the plastic toys you have and start building a large ethical and sustainable toy stash, then you can’t join this movement at all. There are tons of lower-priced options that are a step in the right direction in the toy world.

Start by making small changes: Instead of buying your child five toys for their birthday, put all the money into one really good-quality toy. Or add a Cash Gift Fund to your baby registry or holiday wish list so people can contribute toward the toys you’re really hoping to get your child. No effort is a wasted effort when it comes to being more green!

I’m going to let you guys in on my personal favorite toy recommendations, mainly surrounding open-ended play, with a few more specific toys too. These are all at a range of prices and all on the greener side for one reason or another. Find me over on Instagram and let me know your favorite green toy and how you use it!

All I want is a green Christmas this year, guys! Being able to put all my green options on all my kids’ personalized registries for Christmas makes me so incredibly happy. And our families can now easily support our green toy choices by conveniently shopping directly from our gift lists.

In Canada

Grimm's, Grimm's Large Pastel Semicircles
Grimm's Large Pastel Semicircles | Well.ca
$77.98

In Canada

Grimm's, Grimm's Large Wooden Rainbow
Grimm's Large Wooden Rainbow | Well.ca
$124.97

In the U.S.

Grimm's, Grimm's Large Wooden Rainbow
Grimm's Large Wooden Rainbow | nini & loli
$120.00

In Canada

Grimm's, Grimm's Building Set Squares
Grimm's Building Set Squares | Well.ca
$67.97

In the U.S. (Similar)

Rock Blocks, Rock Blocks Valencia Set
Rock Blocks Valencia Set | TheTot
$57.99

In Canada

Hape, Hape Quadrilla Castle Escape Marble Run
Hape Quadrilla Castle Escape Marble Run | Walmart Canada
$212.99

In the U.S.

Hape, Hape Quadrilla Castle Escape Marble Run
Hape Quadrilla Castle Escape Marble Run | Amazon
$79.93

In Canada

Grimm's, Grimm's Large Monochrome Stacking Boxes
Grimm's Large Monochrome Stacking Boxes | Well.ca
$109.98

In the U.S.

Grimm's, Grimm's Large Monochrome Stacking Boxes
Grimm's Large Monochrome Stacking Boxes | Amazon
$180.20

In Canada

Hape, Hape Cooking Essentials
Hape Cooking Essentials | Well.ca
$29.99

In the U.S.

Hape, Hape Cooking Essentials
Hape Cooking Essentials | Target
$32.15

In Canada

Tegu, Tegu Pocket Pouch Magnetic Wooden Block Set
Tegu Pocket Pouch Magnetic Wooden Block Set | Well.ca
$39.99

In the U.S.

Tegu, Tegu Pocket Pouch Magnetic Wooden Block Set
Tegu Pocket Pouch Magnetic Wooden Block Set | Amazon
$18.29

In Canada

Agirlgle, Agirlgle Wood Building Blocks Set
Agirlgle Wood Building Blocks Set | Amazon Canada
$36.96

In the U.S.

Agirlgle, Agirlgle Wood Building Blocks Set
Agirlgle Wood Building Blocks Set | Amazon
$32.96

In Canada

PlanToys, Plan Toys Doll Family
Plan Toys Doll Family | Well.ca
$28.79

In the U.S.

PlanToys, Plan Toys Doll Family
Plan Toys Doll Family | Bohemian Mama
$20.00

In Canada

Green Toys, Green Toys Recycling Truck
Green Toys Recycling Truck | Amazon Canada
$33.18

In the U.S.

Green Toys, Green Toys Recycling Truck
Green Toys Recycling Truck | Target
$26.95

In Canada

Green Toys, Green Toys Rescue Boat with Helicopter
Green Toys Rescue Boat with Helicopter | Amazon Canada
$39.99

In the U.S.

Green Toys, Green Toys Rescue Boat with Helicopter
Green Toys Rescue Boat with Helicopter | Amazon
$17.73

In Canada

Green Toys, Green Toys Tea Set
Green Toys Tea Set | Amazon Canada
$78.54

In the U.S.

Green Toys, Green Toys Tea Set
Green Toys Tea Set | Amazon
$36.79

In Canada

Green Toys, Green Toys Farm Playset
Green Toys Farm Playset | Amazon Canada
$49.99

In the U.S.

Green Toys, Green Toys Farm Playset
Green Toys Farm Playset | Walmart
$49.99

In Canada

Miniland, Miniland 15" Baby Doll
Miniland 15" Baby Doll | Amazon Canada
$60.33

In the U.S.

Miniland, Miniland 15" Baby Doll
Miniland 15" Baby Doll | Amazon
$38.65


About the Writer
Canadian blogger Savannah Walsh is the mom of five little ones and the face behind That Caffeinated Mom, where she talks pregnancy, birth, postpartum struggles, and everyday mom life in her own relatable and very candid storytelling style. Savannah has created a space for moms from all walks of life to connect over motherhood by telling the real-life story of a regular mom, including the tough parts of motherhood we sometimes shy away from. When Savannah had her first baby, she knew very little about the mom world and quickly felt overwhelmed by the number of options available to her, from baby brands to parenting advice. Over the years, she’s tried just about every baby and kid product there is, along with developing her own parenting style and devising ways to stay sane while balancing a busy household. Savannah joins us every month on MyRegistry to share her stories, mom tips, and favorite baby products.

Find Something You Like?
You can add any of these items to a MyRegistry.com Holiday Wish List. Just create a Holiday Wish List for you and everyone in your family, then fill them with gifts from all your favorite stores.

Looking for More Holiday Wish List Ideas?
Find lots more gifts for everyone in the family on our Wish List Inspiration Boards.

We are a Universal Gift Registry website where people can create a registry and add gifts from any store in the world. If you buy any of the products listed here, we may be compensated. Thanks for reading—we love you!

 

0 Claps
Applause from you and -1 others
Comments are closed