Sunday, 20 October 2013

Why Choose Organic Toys for Your Children?

Everyone wants the best for their children, so when getting them toys as presents why not choose organic toys where possible?  There are lots of reasons why buying organic toys makes good sense; they are healthier for your children, kinder to the environment and the materials used are produced in a much more ethical manner.  By choosing organic toys you are cherishing your children and looking after your planet.
Organic toys are manufactured from materials and fabrics which have had no toxic substances or pesticides used in the process, have been grown ethically and are from sustainable resources.  All children’s skin is sensitive and should not be put in contact with harsh chemicals and irritants, but if your child suffers from allergies or skin sensitivities this is even more important.  Toys can be made from organic cotton, wool, hemp, wood and even organic plastics.

Toys - Wooden Blocks
Toys - Wooden Blocks

A lot of organic toys are made from organic cotton, which is far more environmentally friendly than non-organic commercial cotton.  The production of non-organic cotton is very damaging to the environment.  . Organic cotton production is much safer for the cotton farmers as they do not have to work with the very strong chemicals used in the production of non-organic cotton, the use of which can be potentially fatal.  Also it means that the chemicals are not polluting the air that the local communities have to breathe or leaking into the water supplies or contaminating the soil.  Critics say that organic cotton uses a lot more water than non-organic cotton to produce, but this is not necessarily true and, in any case, the benefits of choosing organic cotton toys far outweigh the negatives. The production of organic wool is also kinder to the environment and the sheep that are used are also treated better.

You have to be more careful with buying organic toys than with organic food, however, as currently in the UK it is not compulsory for non-food organic products to be tested and certified.  However, many of the top manufacturers of are voluntarily going through the certification process to prove that their products are truly organic.  Another thing to watch out for is that a toy could be made with 100% organic cotton, but that fabric could have later gone through a harsh bleaching or dyeing process that compromises its purity.  There are several bodies that offer certification for organic toys and these include Global Organic Textile Standard, Institute for Marketecology, Organic Trade Association, Demeter and Control Union, so look out for toys that have been certified when you are shopping.

There are now many good-quality wooden toys to available in the shops, ranging from blocks, jigsaws, train sets to bigger items such as rocking horses and baby walkers.  Wooden toys are free from the dangerous chemicals found lurking in plastic toys, and if you choose organic wood, you will be avoiding any contamination from pesticides and chemicals.  When buying wooden toys ensure that they are made with solid wood, and not pressed wood as that tends to contain formaldehyde, another nasty chemical.  When you purchase your organic wooden toys, ensure that they are made from organically farmed trees and from sustainable resources.  In addition, if they are painted or decorated, the paint and any varnishes should be non-toxic.

As all children enjoy being creative, try to ensure that they are using non-toxic crayons, paints and pencils, that have been made from organic or natural materials from sustainable resources.  Try to buy drawing paper and colouring books made from organic paper that has also been produced from sustainable resources.  As small children tend to put crayons and pencils in their mouths, it is very important that the ones you buy them do not contain dangerous chemicals.

Toys made from organic plastics are not so common, but there are compelling reasons not to give your children conventional plastic toys..  Organic plastic has not been made from non-renewable petroleum products, and so does not contain dangerous chemicals such as phthalates, lead, cadmium and BPA.  It is the phthalates (PVC) that make the plastic soft, so currently most soft plastic toys for infants and toddlers contain these dangerous chemicals.   As they are used a lot in teething rings and other toys designed to be sucked and chewed, it makes it even more likely that your child will ingest these highly unpleasant chemicals. Small children are far more vulnerable to poisoning from toxins in their environment than adults, as they have very small body masses and their skins are very absorbent.  The chemicals absorbed can lead to cancers, failure of the reproductive system to develop and kidney problems.  Organic plastics are made from renewable plant sources, such as sugar cane, and therefore are free from the dangerous chemicals associated with petroleum-based products.  If these plants are also grown organically, there is also no contamination possible from pesticides and chemical fertilisers, and they have the added benefits of being biodegradable and, unlike ordinary plastics, will decompose in landfill sites.

So, as you can see, there is a wide range of organic toys to choose from when buying gifts for children.  Whether it is for Christmas, a birthday or just as a little treat, make sure that whatever you buy keeps your children healthy, looks after the planets and has been produced ethically and fairly.

Building Bricks image Wikimedia Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 unported

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