Eco-Friendly Toys for Toddlers

The author's own wooden toy.
















By Sayward Rebhal, Networx

One of the greatest side effects of becoming a parent is the hope that it instills - the way that you can see the future stretching out in front of you, and how suddenly that future seems really, really important. Maybe that's why moms and dads are some of the most passionate environmental activists. They have a greater stake in the game.

The good news is that nowadays, it's easier than ever to make sure your purchase packs an activist punch. You can use your dollar for good, by choosing companies who make it their mission to preserve the planet. The ones below are just a few of my favorite larger operations, which are accessible to a wider audience. But remember, the "greenest" choice is something made locally, something handmade by an artist, or something secondhand. If you're interested in going that route, check out Etsy, check out your city's craft scene, and have fun poking around at thrift stores and garage sales. Otherwise, use this list as your little green short cut:

1. Vehicles from Green Toys

This company is amazing, and their little toy trucks, made entirely from recycled plastic and produced in the USA, are absolutely adorable. My two year old son would go bonkers for these!

Green Toys gets my vote because they turn trash into treasure by recycling old milk jugs into brand new toys. The entire company operates out of California (in the San Francisco area), including manufacturing. American jobs are green jobs! And although they are made out of plastic, they are phthalate- and BPA-free.

2. Musical Instruments from Plan Toys

We have a few of the Plan instruments, and can attest to their quality and beauty. They are simple, well designed products that children just seem drawn to.

Plan Toys gets my vote because they are a company deeply committed to environmental stewardship. All of their wood comes from spent rubber trees - that is, trees that are no longer producing and would be cut down and discarded (burned) by the latex industry. They use non-toxic paints and do not use wood preservatives.

3. Organic Cotton Stuffies from Aminals

I love the look of these stuffed animals so, so much, that I kind of want them for my own. The designs are based on children's drawings, and they're just brilliant.

Aminals gets my vote because they use 100% organic cotton and natural vegetable dyes. These toys are actually compostable! They are certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, which requires companies to meet its criteria regarding textile manufacturing and employee working conditions. Aminals is thus certified both sustainable and humane.

4. Ride-On Toys From Wishbone Design Studio

Wishbone bikes are the industry standard in wooden riding toys. Their 3-in-1 convertible balance bike grows with your child, transforming from a push trike to a small scooter, to a large balance bike.

Wishbone gets my vote because their company manifesto includes a declaration to "Sustainibilize Everything". This has led to a bike made from 100% reforested birch plywood with a silicon seat and organic cotton bag, a "no plastic packaging" policy, a carbon emissions offset program which certifies them carboNZero (the company is based in New Zealand), and more.

Do you know of any great companies I've missed? Please share your favorites in the comments section!