Plastic Free Toys: Do Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Plastic Toys Exist?

Plastic toys are very common today for babies and kids and they spend most of their time with these toys, mostly also exploring them with their mouth by licking, chewing them etc. It is necessary to ensure that materials used for making those toys must not contain any toxic elements that can raise health issues in children. It has been found by researchers that during the manufacturing process different chemicals are added to plastic toys to make them flexible which could be harmful to kids, particularly babies who are most concerned.

 

Are Plastic Toys Safe for Babies?

Unfortunately, many parents do not know about the toxic effects of certain plastic toys, so it is essential to make them aware of plastic free toys that are both eco-friendly and safe for the kids. Parents should avoid giving plastic toys to their kids as the safety of the child matters the most.

In fact, a 2021 study by the Denmark Technical University (DTU) commissioned by the UN Environment Program showed that more than 100 chemicals found in plastic toys materials can pose health risks to children. These are chemical additives like placizisers, used in toys to make them softer and provide elasticity. Further to plasticizers, also flame retardants and fragrances were found among the hazardous substances. The researchers recommended stricter international regulations, so that safer alternatives are found to these harmful chemicals.

 

What are Eco-friendly Materials for Toys?

It has long been known that several chemicals used in plastic toys in different parts of the world can be harmful to human health. However, it is difficult for parents to figure out how to avoid plastic toys containing chemicals that may cause possible health risks to their children. Instead, they should go for buying toys made with materials that are an excellent alternative to plastic. Here are some examples:

  • Wooden Toys
  • Cloth Toys
  • Bamboo Toys
  • Food-grade Silicone Toys
  • Natural Rubber Toys

These are no plastic toys that give babies and toddlers the same enjoyment and avoid any health issues arising from the harmful effects of plasticizers.

 

5 Best Alternatives To Plastic Toys

Different materials can be a good alternative to plastic for making toys for babies and children which do not contain harmful plastic components. Most of these materials are obtained from natural sources and do not include any chemical components or harmful additives. Moreover, unlike plastic, these materials are biodegradable and do not contribute to environmental pollution after disposal. Some of the most popular eco-friendly alternatives to plastic toys are discussed as follows:

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1. Wooden Toys

Wooden toys are a very old and traditional form of toy making that has become more popular nowadays due to their environment-friendly nature and natural ingredients. The various advantages of wooden toys over plastic toys are mentioned below.

  • Wood is a natural material that doesn’t produce any toxic effects.
  • It can be beautifully crafted and designed in various shapes and sizes with attractive looks.
  • Wood is biodegradable and recyclable which makes it eco-friendly.
  • Wooden toys are more durable than plastic and not broken easily.
  • Wooden toys do not require the addition of chemicals to make them flexible and moldable.
  • Make sure that wooden toys do not contain any harmful colors in their painting or toxic sealants. Examples of best non-toxic sealants (lacquers)  are linseed oil or tung oil, both of which are safe for children.

See the range of wooden toys on:

 

 

Related:  Why You Need to Use Eco Friendly Phone Cases to Accessorise Your Mobile?

2. Cloth Toys

Plastic-free Toys Cloth Toys

 

Cloth toys are also a traditional art form of toy making. They can be designed with attractive colors that can catch the child’s attention. The advantages of cloth toys are as follows:

  • Cloth toys are soft and flexible, so suitable for a child’s tender skin.
  • It avoids any scope of getting hurt by breaking or sharp edges.
  • Cloth toys are mostly washable and repairable.
  • Cloth toys are found in a variety of designs at a cheaper cost.
  • Please note: make sure that the cloth comes from natural fibers (organic cotton, hemp, wool) and doesn’t contain harmful chemicals. Even better if these materials are certified by standards like OEKO-TEX® etc.
  • When the cloth is made of natural fibers, it means it is biodegradable making it eco-friendly as it can be home composted at the end of its life cycle.

See the range of cloth toys on:

 

3. Bamboo Toys

Bamboo is a plant with a woody stem that is used for making different art crafts including toys. Unprocessed bamboo is a sustainable material because it is a fast-growing grass, it doesn’t require fertilizers or pesticides, and self-regenerates from its own roots, so it doesn’t need to be replanted, nor does it need a lot of water to grow, making it a renewable and versatile crop. 

Bamboo toys have a range of benefits in health aspects and safety for kids, some of which are mentioned as follows:

  • They are strong and durable, but still provide some flexibility.
  • They can be designed in various shapes.
  • Bamboo is weather resistant, moisture-proof, and insect resistant.
  • Bamboo toys are also resistant to fungus and bacteria growth.
  • Bamboo is totally biodegradable and therefore also home compostable.
  • Bamboo toys are mostly handmade without using any chemical components. 

See the range of bamboo toys on:

 

 

Related: Why You Should Switch to Glass Baby Bottles?

 

 

 4. Food-Grade Silicone Toys

 Food-Grade Silicone Toys

Food-grade silicone is obtained from natural silica and is used to make baby food containers, tethers, and toys which are safe for babies. It is soft and flexible but also can sustain chewing or biting strain for a long time. The benefits of food-grade silicone over plastic in making baby toys are mentioned below.

  • Food grade silicone is completely free from chemical byproducts.
  • Food-grade silicone toys are durable and temperature resistant.
  • These toys are robust and flexible making them ideal for kids.
  • Food-grade silicone toys promote a good grip on the baby’s hands.
  • Food grade silicone is waterproof and not affected by germs.
  • Food-grade silicone is biodegradable and hence eco-friendly.
  • These toys are hygienic, lightweight, and easy to clean.

To some people plastic-free toys are toys that do not include silicone either. This is because silicone is not completely inert and some low-grade silicone products are made with plasticizers.

 

5. Natural Rubber Toys

Rubber Toys are not only great fun for small children but they’re eco-friendly too. The natural, biodegradable rubber toy is completely safe for your children so they can chew, stretch and play without facing any health issues. Natural rubber is sourced from the latex of rubber trees which is vulcanized and shaped into various products. Natural rubber is another sustainable and flexible material that many manufacturers prefer to prepare baby and toddlers’ teething toys. The advantages of natural rubber toys are mentioned as follows:

  • Natural rubber is biodegradable and recyclable.
  • It is non-toxic and free from harmful plastic components.
  • Naturally soft and flexible.
  • Natural rubber toys are robust, weather resistant, and durable.
  • Environmentally sustainable

 

Conclusion

In the modern lifestyle, we are surrounded by plastic everywhere, so it’s not easy to find plastic-free toys. We all are aware of the harmful effects of plastic on the environment and parents are concerned about their kid’s safety and health aspects while playing with plastic toys. Researchers are working on alternative natural resources to replace plastic as much as possible. One area that can make use of plastic-free alternatives is the toy-making sector by making hygienic and eco-friendly toys for babies and children. By choosing plastic-free, biodegradable, natural alternatives over plastic, we can make our environment cleaner and safer for our future generations.

Browse more articles related to plastic and microplastics around babies.

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