The holidays will soon be upon us, and where you get your toys may not be of that much concern to you, so long as you grab a bargain. Green Dad certainly has sympathy for the bargain hunter in us all.
But if you follow the news, you know that every holiday season delivers toy recalls at a clip that rivals Santa's fastest reindeer. Among the scariest was the lead paint recalls on Chinese-made toys in 2007 — which I remember well, since my kids had lots of Thomas the Tank Engine trains that we had to check for the suspect stuff.
It's not just safety, but a love of the environment (and teaching kids about it) that leads me to recommend these seven eco-friendly toys. From flying discs to windmills, lots of options exist (many of them American-made) to make this season bright with eco-smarts.
Green Dad's always been a sucker for flying discs and frisbees, and this particular Green Toys saucer comes in a very nifty shade of lime. At a price you can't beat ($6.99 with free shipping, a low by $3) from aSavings via Buy.com, and made from 100% recycled plastic grocery bags, this model soars above the rest for its love of Mother Earth. It weighs about 130 grams, and it sure beats trying to make your own disc out of those pesky grocery bags.
This high-quality maker of kids' science and construction kits has a winner here. The Wind Power Renewable Energy Kit ($37.46 with free shipping, a low by $5) from Barnes & Noble will get kids building their own wind turbine complete with electric generator, adjustable rotors, and wind speed indicator. Little scientists can conduct more than 20 experiments, and use the wind turbine to generate mechanical power to lift a heavy weight — or generate electricity to light up an LED, and charge a rechargeable battery. If only getting everyone to use wind power was so easy and fun.
No, the Global Warming Experiment Kit ($26.21 with free shipping, a low by $2) doesn't promotes global warming, but helps your child understand the forces behind greenhouse gasses and the like, with 23 hands-on experiments. Also from Thames & Kosmos, this kit gives kids the basic knowledge they need to understand the climate, why it changes, and how our actions affect it, all by conducting experiments with a model Earth and atmosphere.
I wish I had known about these made-in-Vermont trains back when I was checking my Thomas trains for toxic paint. The Basic Train Wooden NameTrain Set ($28.45 via coupon code "wintersave" with $8.95 s&h, a low by $4) is compatible with Brio and Thomas systems, and best of all, you can buy trains in letters to spell out your child's name. Of course, there are certain adults who like to do this to, including Yours Greenly. Maple Landmark has been cited by Dr. Toy for its excellence in green toy-making.
TDC makes a variety of 1000-piece puzzles that will ensure hours of fun. The pictured puzzle, The Big Game ($9.99 with free shipping via Amazon Prime, a low by $8) and a variety of others are made from 100% recycled, bio-degradable material, and use soy-based inks. Besides, what's not to like about the subject matter of "The Big Game"? It's a bunch of animals playing high-stakes poker, making this the perfect gift to ward off holiday fruitcakes.
Here's another American-made way to say eco-friendly: play dough made from non-toxic, natural ingredients. The dyes in the Eco-Kids' Set of 5 Natural Plant Dye Modeling Dough ($19.98 with free shipping via Amazon Prime, a low by $5) are derived from natural substances such as beets and spinach. I suppose your toddlers could eat this stuff and not get sick, but there are better ways to get your veggies, kids. Do note that if you buy several batches of this dough, the colors may vary slightly.
Be sure to wrap up this top-rated bamboo toy on Amazon in eco-friendly wrapping paper! The HaPe International E-Racer Le Mans in Blue ($17.96 with free shipping via Amazon Prime, a low by $7) has a body made from a single piece of renewable bamboo and is finished in non-toxic, water based paints from Europe. In fact, all of HaPe's toy cars, trucks, and planes are made from bamboo and sport vibrant colors and oh-so-funky designs.
Front page photo credit: wikipeers