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by Katie Hodgkins

Eco-Friendly Parenting: Wooden Toys vs. Plastic Toys

Protecting our environment has come to the forefront of public attention in recent years. As parents, it’s something we can all participate in.

In recent months, I’ve developed a huge interest in the environment, and how we can parent in the most environmentally responsible and sustainable way possible, the black bin being full of stinky nappies also being a motivating factor! Lots of the parents in our community have told me that they’re unsure where to start, or anxious about changing when they’re in a comfortable routine. Understandable, I felt the same way, but I feel that this is something really important to address!

The prospect of changing things up can be daunting, but there are so many easy swaps you can make during your parenting journey that will be kinder on our planet, protect your local ecosystem, and reduce the footprint you leave on this earth for future generations too.

In this guide, I’ll be exploring all the wonderful tips and substitutions that exist that are more friendly on the environment, and as as bonus may are kinder on your bank balance too!

We’ll be exploring;

  • Eco-Friendly Baby Products
  • Cloth nappies and wipes
  • Biodegradable nappies and wipes
  • Reusable sanitary products
  • Wooden toys vs. plastic toys (this edition)
  • Buying eco-friendly baby and maternity clothing, or using charity shops more
  • Use of ‘single use’ plastic

We aim to dispel misconceptions about how difficult it is to change your habits, and also show the amazing benefits of each of these eco-friendly parenting ideas, with recommendations on where to go to find everything from environmentally friendly toiletries and eco-friendly options for mum too.

This edition is dedicated to the benefits of wooden toys – we hope you find it informative!

Ditch The Plastic & Choose Wooden Toys

Wooden toys have enjoyed a huge resurgence in popularity recently, which is great because they’re far more environmentally friendly than their plastic equivalents. Recent studies have also warned against the use of some plastic toys due to worrying toxin levels – you can read more here.

Where’s best to buy wooden toys?

Lidl, Aldi, and Asda are amazing for Wooden Toy shopping! Our Wooden Toy guide from Christmas 2018 gives some great examples; some of it may no longer be in stock but you’ll be able to browse their current ranges.

What are the benefits of choosing wooden toys?

If you love the the Montessori concept of learning and play, you’ve probably already read up on all of the benefits of choosing wooden toys for children. If not… now is your chance to find out more!

Bells, whistles and flashing lights are all attractive aspects of plastic toys and it’s easy to see why kids love all the pizzazz! However, when there’s an obvious way an item should be played with – a button to push or a voice telling kids what to do (close ended play) a little imagination can be lost. Many wooden toys promote and inspire imaginative play (open ended play). They may encourage role play or open ended play where an item can be played with in lots of ways which is fantastic for honing the imagination. A wooden rainbow can become a telephone, a bridge or a rainbow! Blocks can be towers or castles or stepping stones across a river. And how much fun is it to set up your own shop or kitchen with little more than a few wooden fruit and veg items? The lack of distracting noises and lights also promotes social interaction when playing with other children. That’s not to say that high-tech toys are inherently bad, just that playing with wooden toys comes with its own plus points.

Are wooden toys better than plastic toys?

GREAT question! One major factor that may give traditional wooden toys the shopping edge for you is the horrendous environmental impact of plastic on our earth. If you haven’t watched the documentary ‘Drowning in Plastic’ on BBC yet, I recommend that you do! Whilst demand for plastic toys remains, there will be continued production of plastic, leading to landfill and other problems such as micro-plastics building in our water table and ocean, the death of many species of wildlife… most plastic is not biodegradable. Wood is! With this in mind, wooden toys are far easier to recycle and can be made with sustainable wood.

Plastic toys tend to have a shorter lifespan. This means lots of waste and carbon emissions result from making more toys, whereas wooden toys are usually more durable and stand a little more wear and tear so they can be passed between siblings or even generations. Being able to pass down toys that have sentimental memories attached makes the toy that extra bit special.

Finally, plastic toys very often include levels of PVC, phthalates, lead, and bisphenol-A, which can be toxic in certain amounts. There are specific safety standards toys made in the EU must adhere to regarding use of these, but it’s worth bearing in mind that older secondhand plastic toys may have been made before our laws got so stringent. In contrast, wooden toys, when properly manufactured, are merely painted with some non-toxic paint. This means your little one can gnaw away without any worries.

Read our blog on our favourite wooden toys here!

To conclude…

As a parent, you could have a big impact on our planet by choosing wooden toys over plastic. Wooden toys are more sustainable, kinder to the environment, and very often healthier for children both developmentally and physically due to the high levels of toxic chemicals involved in manufacturing plastic toys. Wooden toys aren’t inaccessibly expensive either so it’s something we can all get on board with no matter our walks of life.

Love from Katie Xx

Katie Hodgkins Image
I'm Katie, and I'm a mama, wife, and freelance content creator for Bump, Baby & You. I also help to run our thriving online community over in our Facebook support group, as well as volunteering for my local branch of the National Childbirth Trust. I'm a busy bee and enjoy keeping active, cooking, writing, and fun days out with my little family. My special topics of interest are... autism (as me and my son are both autistic), science, all things parenting and pregnancy related, and The Handmaids Tale!
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