Monopoly With Carbon Credits? 7 Green Board Games for the New Generation

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Photo via holisticmonkey (Joshua Ganderson)/Creative Commons

During your next family party, rainy afternoon, or monthly game night, set up one of these eco-friendly board games to encourage teamwork, cooperation, and sustainability lessons -- all in about an hour.

The games make it fun to learn about everything from gardening to global climates and are often made from recycled and recyclable materials -- so no matter who comes in first place, the environment is the real winner.

1. Earthopoly

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Photo via Amazon

Monopoly's hold on the game industry is no accident -- which is why the eco-friendly version of this classic, Earthopoly, is the kind of fun-for-the-whole-family toy that will earn a spot on your list of game-night favorites.

But instead of perfecting your real estate prowess, this environmental alternative helps you fine-tune your green cred: In lieu of collecting property, you'll buy carbon credits that you can exchange for clean air while learning about nature and climate regions. And when you're ready to upgrade, you can recycle the cards, pieces, and even the board. (Earthopoly, $30)

2. Head1Liners

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Photo via

Try your hand at the newspaper business with Head1Liners from Kvale Good Natured Games, where players write their own headlines to accompany a photo and move forward based on how well other players score them.

It's a simple premise, but the eco-friendly attributes make it a must-have addition to any game library: The cards are made from recycled paper and soy-based inks, tokens are constructed from recycled glass and wood, and even the score-keeping pencils are biodegradable and non-toxic. (Head1Liners, $38)

3. The Wild Seed Game

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Photo via Acorn Naturalists

Hands-on gardening is a great way to introduce kids to the connection between the Earth, their food, and their health -- but when it's not growing season, keep their minds planting with The Wild Seed Game.

Aimed at kids age 4-9, the game requires players to choose cards that show whether their plants are sprouting -- or falling victim to hungry wildlife -- while incorporating lessons about the food chain, growing process, nutrients, and sunlight. And since there are four different ways to play, you can make it more complicated as kids get older -- or simplify it for the younger set. (The Wild Seed Game, $22)

4. Bioviva

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Photo via Amazon Bioviva brags that its approach to making its line of games -- which includes Cro-Magnon, Mission Jungle, and Families in Nature -- produces 63 percent fewer greenhouse gases, uses half as much water and energy, and gives off only about 20 percent of the toxic compounds of other games -- but the best part is: They're fun.

The namesake game, Bioviva, is for up to six players over the age of 8, and has participants travel around the world to collect Eco Points by answering questions about science and nature. And with a catalog of more than 800 questions, it's never the same game twice. (Bioviva, $24)

5. Gaia's Garden

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Photo via Etsy seller lizetfrijters developed Gaia's Garden to teach kids about cooperation: As they try to keep their gardens free from pests and insects, they have to take advantage of companion planting and teamwork to help their growing blossoms thrive.

Each set is handmade with watercolor paint on recycled paper and mounted with natural flour-and-water glue to recycled boards -- and even the organic cotton storage bag is printed with natural inks. The intricate detail and hand-painted board make Gaia's Garden as much a work of art as it is kid-friendly play activity. (Gaia's Garden, $44)

6. Liebrary, Call It! and Famous Last Lines

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Photo via Discovery Bay Games Daryl Hannah has already spoken out about the importance of biodiesel, oil contamination, and the perils of coal mining, but she's also turned her attention toward more leisurely pursuits: Together with Hilary Shepard, she created three family board games that focus on social interaction (and are made from recycled materials).

Literary-minded gamers can try Liebrary, in which players compete to see who can invent the most convincing first line of a book; movie buffs will love Famous Last Lines, where the goal is to come up with fake final bon mots from well-loved films; and the whole family can team up for Call It!, where players try to be the first to yell out winning entries in random categories. (Liebrary, $23; Famous Last Lines, $30; Call It! $15)

7. Used and Vintage Board Games

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Mikael Miettinen/Flickr

But we can't leave out the games you loved as a kid. The greenest games might just be the same ones you played in elementary school: Used and vintage board games from thrift stores, yard sales, and eBay will cost you less than new versions (and help decrease your consumption).

As long as the sets have all the pieces -- or at least enough to ward off fights over who's the true winner -- you can enjoy the same Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Sorry!, Risk, and Battleships you remember from childhood.