5. Healthy ToysCredit: Little Tikes
As we said in the beginning, there have been problems with toys, often made in foreign lands, that contain toxic materials. An Ann Arbor, Michigan group called The Ecology Center began testing toys years ago with an X-Ray Fluorescence analyzer, which identifies the elemental composition of materials.
In 2009, the third year of testing, the group found that lead has been steadily decreasing in toys. But one in three toys tested still contained one or more harmful chemical including lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury, the center says.
The Ecology Center database now includes other items and is called HealthyStuff.org. It's a good jumping off point before you go shopping, and great for generating gift ideas (and conversation after unwrapping). There's even a mobile version for when you're already at the store. The healthy toys on HealthyStuff.org aren't necessarily eco toys. They're just ones made with kids in mind.
6. Recycle TruckVideo via YouTube
Also from Green Toys (the Jump Rope people), comes the Recycle Truck, a toy for boys (and girls alike).
This one is made in the USA from recycled milk jugs. No BPA or phthalates, either. And the packaging can be recycled. It features a movable recycling bed, open/shut rear door and no metal axles to rust.
Once you get them interested in this one, it should be easier to get your kids to skip the garbage can, visit the recycling bins, get used to sorting and maybe even haul your recyclables to the curb (if you're lucky enough to have that service).
7. Desert HothouseCredit: tauntingpanda via Flickr Eco Child's Play, a green parenting site, put out a Top 10 List late last year of toys nominated by readers and evaluated by The Goddard School. The list includes the Desert Hothouse from DuneCraft.
It allows kids to create a desert scene using a variety of cacti and succulents (like agave, pictured above) that sprout quickly and last for years.
Speaking of growth, what did we miss? Let us know what toys you'd suggest in the comments below.