Thursday, December 6, 2007

Happy Toys Instead of Crap Toys

As a dazed and confused parent in a big chain toy store, I sometimes wonder what we are doing to our children. My kids room are full of toys that they love for a day and forget about in a week. Then every December I box up the ones that are not broken and donate them to charity, all in an effort to make room for the new toys Santa will bring on Christmas. It's not the smartest plan. I have to admit that for a woman who's attempting to live a more eco-friendly, self- aware life it's an irresponsible thing to do on so many levels.

I recently read an article by Lou Bendrick written for Grist Magazine that solidified my feelings
about the disposable toys I buy for my children. I want to show them love so I buy, buy, buy at birthdays and Christmas. Why?

I've fallen into the consumer trap that I preach to my children about avoiding but I'm in it struggling to break free.

Lou Bendrick reminded me of heirloom toys saved from our childhoods. My parents still have my Lionel train set. We take it out every time I go home, just for the sake of watching it go in circles at the center of the living room floor. They saved my dolls and Fisher Price Little People play sets.

What have I put back for my children to remember their childhoods? To date, nothing but a few special stuffed animals. The rest is broken, lost or donated. I mean how long can you actually keep plastic light sabers, McDonald's toys and Sea Monkeys?

And now with the scare over lead paint and other toxins in toys, I don't just wonder about my buying habits, I'm ready to change them. Katy Balatero did some of the legwork for me with her article in Grist. She researched several toy companies who use eco-friendly and toxin free materials to make their toys. And they are toys that will stand the test of time, unlike the Hannah Montana sing along stage complete with microphone and long blond wig.


Someday I might be able to play blocks on the floor with my grandchildren and tell them about the Christmas that Santa brought the brightly colored set for their father. And none of my children will have suffered from lead poisoning or been exposed to chemicals that can linger in their blood for years to come.

Here are some of my favorite companies from Katy Balatero's list. If you have children in your life, take a moment to read these two well informed ladies articles. Then decide if you are ready to jump off the crap toy bandwagon with me.

HaPe
Tumbleweed Woodworks
ImagiPlay

The worst we will suffer is a few heated tears from our toddlers when we walk away from the majority of the toy isle but in the long run that's so much better than the alternatives - sick youngsters, landfills overflowing with mountains of plastic Disney figurines, and no tangible memories of childhood.

This sounds more like a rant than my usual happy post. The happy part is that we have alternatives. We can make better choices. The United States Government can ratify the same restrictions over toys that have been passed by the European Union and we can rest easy that our children's toys are safe. We can buy toys that make them squeal with joy while being vigilant about the well-being of our children.

Happy shopping.

15 comments:

Anna said...

Oh Lisa where are the days when we got one toy and charished for years, I still have my dolls, one 30 years old and another one 20 years old, and still have vision of all the toys I owned. I did not have many, and many I made myself. I think kids have very nice toys right now, but I think it will be hard for them to remember some of them. Excellent post, Anna :)

thewishfulwriter said...

I agree with Anna - excellent post.

Which is exactly why I nominated you for yet another award.

:)

Lisa McGlaun said...

Anna,

I still have a cherished doll that was bought for my 6th birthday. Her name is Victoria. Her eyelashes are gone and she's not a shiny as she once was but I love her still so I know exactly what you are talking about.

Thanks for the comment.
Best,
Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

Heather!

Thank you for the badge! I'll post it proudly.

Hugs,
Lisa

The Uneasy Supplicant said...

Great post Lisa! I don't know how much money I spent on toys that were pure "crap". There isn't one remaining. My fiance still has her doll when she was a child. The He-Man figures I bought for my kids wound up in the garbage about 2 years after they got them for Christmas.
You are right. Greater restriction should be brought in .... in the States and also here in Canada.
Take care.
~JD

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Lisa, I applaud your efforts to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle. I think that all kids are basically the same where we buy them toys and they lose interest within a short period of time. As parents, we can't hold onto everything, and toy donation (we do this too) is a good thing. However, as far as heirlooms are concerned, my wife and I try to save items which the kids loved and cherished and we store them for our kids so they may pass them on. My daughter has a collection of Sailor Moon dolls which we carefully boxed up and stored away for her. My son has a complete set of Rescue Heroes toys which got the same treatment. Every once in a while we take something the kids seem to grow out of and keep it aside and try to assess if they would like to keep it. But, my daughter has two "untouchables" which she keeps on display in her room: a Cookie Monster puppet, and a stuffed Astro (from the Jetsons). BTW, Astro was the first toy I bought her, she was a newborn in the hospital. Thanks for the info on the safe toys, and I'm sorry I rambled here. Have a great day. -Mike.

Lisa McGlaun said...

JD and Mike,

I feel that most of what I buy my children is of no consequence to them. I like your solution, Mike, to pay attention and box up the things that they spend the most time playing with. In my house that would be the Lego sets. All my children love them and play with them for hours at a time.

Don't ever worry about rambling in your comments. I love it that anyone is moved enough to speak up at all...more power to you.

Peace,
Lisa

Happy Person said...

Hi Lisa,
Toys can be educational too. I found Lego meaningful as it helps in the motor skill and creativity skill. It can be accumulated too, building the pieces as one goes along (financially).

Lisa McGlaun said...

Happy,

Legos are one of the toys that my children love the most. We have many sets and a big plastic container full of pieces. They play with them for hours at a time.

I agree that toys are educational, teaching many important skills. Play is educational, maybe more so than schooling at an early age.

I'm just trying to redefine for myself the difference between useful toys that will teach and last from the ones that are useless and will be broken in days.

Thank you so much for your comment. Please add your input any time.

Peace,
Lisa

Anna said...

Hi Lisa, I agree with you Lego and Puzzles are really good for the kids. My sister has two kids (3 and 6 years old) and we always get them lego as a gift and puzzles too, and they just love it, and sit for hours to put it together....and sometimes they start over again, Anna :)

Lisa McGlaun said...

Anna,

I'm always amazed at the things my children build out of Legos. They make up their own designs from all the pieces we have..and we have lots...:)

Peace,
Lisa

photo blocker guy said...

Nice topic it's good to see someone talking about things that will make a differnce this could be a great topic for bloggers unite Dec 17th keep up the great work.
John Bloggers School

photo blocker guy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lisa McGlaun said...

Thanks Photo Blocker,

I plan to participate in the Bloggers Unite Project. Just don't know what I'm going to do yet. I have to hurry and decide.

Thanks for the comment,
Lisa

Kim said...

Hi,
I just caught your blog and I wanted to say how very important eco-friendly toys are!! We manufacture eco-friendly arts and crafts toy for kids 4- 104. You can check us out at www.imaginationboxco.com. I also have a blog - www.eco-friendlylifeandtoys.blogspot.com. Thanks for helping to put the word out!!!
Kim