The 10 Best Eco-Friendly Toys of 2021

Playtime and sustainability go hand in hand with these sustainably-made toys.

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All kids (and a lot of adults) love getting a new toy. But most found in big box shops are made ofplastic, which has a heavy environmental footprint. Even if some of these toys could be donated when your child has out grown them or recycled when they break, so often plastic playthings end up sitting in a landfill or even incinerated.

Fortunately, finding more sustainable alternatives to plastic toys is easier than ever. Many smaller toy companies are sourcing sustainable materials to make their products. These companies often pay livable wages to their workers. Other manufacturers are giving part of their proceeds to charity or promoting environmental causes.

Another cost-saving option to plastic playthings are secondhand toys. It can be a fun outing with your kids to hunt for pre-loved toys, games, and puzzles at yard sales or thrift shops. You can also peruse online marketplaces like Facebook or find curb alerts on NextDoor. There are even apps that make it easy to swap.

But when you’re ready for a toy that is fresh out of the box, here are the best eco-friendly toys.

The Rundown
The Original Swurfer inspires kids, teens, and adults to hang ten in the park or backyard.
This snake puzzle is a great way to practice your ABCsssss.
Have your kid look forward to bath time with this set of a diver, shark, and octopus.
Made from spray-free rubberwood trees, these toys will hold up to crashing waves.
Durable and double as adorable nursery décor once playtime is over.
Made in the United States, this pliable dough offers hours of molding and sculpting fun.
This play kit is designed to give a baby’s brain and body a workout during the first year of life.
Legler’s construction vehicles are the perfect wheels for the tiny builder in the family.
The building sets are crafted by Honduran workers who are paid a living wage.
Each Cuddle + Kind doll is hand-knit with natural cotton yarn, hand-loomed, embroidered, and crocheted by female Peruvian artisans.

Best Overall: Swurfer The Original Stand Up Surfing Swing

Swurfer The Original Stand Up Surfing Swing

The Original Swurfer inspires kids (aged six and up), teens, and adults to hang ten in the park or backyard. The board sets up in minutes and each panel holds up to 200 pounds. It’s also a fun way to build core muscles and improve balance.

Each board is handcrafted from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified wood. The company has also joined the Arbor Day Foundation’s Time for Trees initiative, a project that aims to plant 100 million trees by 2022 — the 150th anniversary of the founding of Arbor Day.

Best Budget: Red Fish Toys Snake Alphabet Puzzle

Red Fish Toys Snake Alphabet Puzzle

This snake puzzle is a great way to practice your ABCsssss. It’s designed to help little learners build hand-eye coordination, and develop letter and color recognition skills. It's also available in a butterfly pattern.

RedFishToys puzzles are handcrafted from rubberwood and non-toxic paints. A mom founded the company, with the goal of creating educational ways for children to have fun.

Best Bath Toys: BeginAgain Bathtub Ball Shark Tank

BeginAgain Bathtub Ball Shark Tank

This adventure set featuring a diver, shark tank, octopus, and shark will make your little one look forward to bath time. It encourages your child to create all kinds of deep-sea stories.

All BeginAgain toys are made from rubber tree wood or sap. Any plastics are created from recycled plastics or bio-plastic sugar, wheat, and corn options. Bathtub toys are washable in the top rack of the dishwasher for easy barnacle removal. Ahoy!

Best Sand Toys: PlanToys Beach and Creative Sand Play Set

PlanToys Beach and Creative Sand Play Set

A bucket of beach fun is the best way to describe PlanToy’s sand pail and sea animal-inspired digging tools. The set

All PlanToys are durable and made from spray-free rubberwood trees, so they’ll hold up to crashing waves or the backyard sandbox for years. They’re also assembled with certified E-Zero formaldehyde-free glues, and colored with organic pigments and water-based dyes.

Best for Toddlers: Play2Progress Mix-Up Animagnets

Play2Progress Mix-Up Animagnets

Kids will go wild for these handmade animal friends. They’re made from FSC-certified wood with magnets safely embedded inside. They’re durable and double as adorable nursery décor once playtime is over.

These creatures are designed for ages two and up by child development experts. They work to enhance core skills like creativity, imagination, critical thinking, and motor skills.

Best Art Supplies: Eco-Kids Eco-Dough

Eco-Kids Eco-Dough

Got crafty kids? Eco-Kids offers a range of all-natural art supplies from finger paints to crayons. This non-toxic “eco-dough” is made in the United States from non-GMO flour and all-natural ingredients, and is scented with essential oils.

The pliable dough offers hours of molding and sculpting fun. It is packaged in 100% recycled paperboard and reusable or recyclable plastic containers to retain its freshness.

Best for Babies: Lovevery Play Gym Activity Gym and Play Mat

Lovevery The Play Gym

This play kit is designed to give a baby’s brain and body a workout during its first year. It includes five play zones that promote healthy brain development and improve motor skills.

Each wooden piece is FSC-compliant. While mouth able and plush toys are made from 100 percent organic cotton and silicone. The Play Gym contains no flame retardant chemicals, BPA, lead, or phthalates. For shipping, the company uses carbon offsets.

Best Trucks: Legler Construction Vehicle Wooden Toy

Legler Construction Vehicle Wooden Toy

Legler’s construction vehicles are the perfect wheels for the tiny builder in the family. They’re crafted from rubberwood made from trees that are felled after their latex yields become low. In most settings, they are replaced with new trees.

Each truck comes with a hammer, screwdriver, and wooden screws, making it an excellent way for little hands to build fine motor skills.

Best Building Toys: Tegu Tints Block 24 Piece Set

Tegu Tints Block 24 Piece Set

Tegu's building sets are crafted by Honduran workers who are paid a living wage. A magnet is tucked inside each block (so they’re not a swallow hazard). The woods are dyed with non-toxic, water-based lacquers.

Most sets are made from Huesito (“little bone) trees, an abundant species in Honduran forests. The company works with cooperatives to select the trees they use to ensure they aren’t contributing to deforestation. When your family has outgrown the set, Tegu will cover the shipping costs to return it, so it doesn’t end up in a landfill.

Best Plush: Cuddle + Kind Doll

Claire The Koala

Each Cuddle + Kind doll is hand-knit with natural cotton yarn, hand-loomed, embroidered and crocheted by women artisans in Peru. These workers have flexible hours and are paid a sustainable wage for their skill and artistry. There's a range of charming creatures, from elephants to mermaids.

The company also partners with humanitarian agencies — like the World Food Program and Children’s Hunger Fund — to distribute ten meals per doll sold to children in need.

Final Verdict

All of these toys will provide hours of enjoyment. The Swurfer swingboard gets high marks for offering fun for (most) ages (view at Walmart). Cuddle + Kind’s handcrafted plush toys are great for snuggle time (view at Amazon). Red Fish Toys puzzles are great ways for kids to learn that are easy on a budget (view at Etsy).

Why Trust Treehugger?

Heidi Wachter has been writing about the health and environmental impacts of plastic for a decade. Her passion is helping people find more sustainable and safer replacements for single and multi-use plastic.