This is the first year we’ve tried to combine Christmas and being a low plastic/low waste household. Some things have been easy, like replacing gift wrap with cloth bags. I don’t know about you, but having an excuse to never have to deal with wrapping odd shaped packages and the inevitable paper cuts makes me want to dance in the streets.
Some things have been harder. Children’s toys seem to be a sea of plastic. Since keeping plastic out of my daughter’s mouth was one of the reasons we are on this plastic free journey, toys are one of the most important components.
Whenever I see a toy I think my kiddo will like I first try and figure out what the non plastic equivalent is and then go through the following checklist:
Can I make the toy myself or learn how to?
Can I find it on Craigslist or a Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade page?
Does a Work at Home Parent make what I want?
Does a local or small business carry this product?
My daughter loves animal figurines. My youngest brother has a basket full of plastic animals and they played with them for hours the last time we drove up to visit my mom.
I don’t want to bring plastic into my home so wooden animals it is.
Can I make wooden animals myself? Yes! This is actually a pretty easy project for those of you who have a scroll saw sitting around in your garage. This way there is no plastic packaging for the toys, and you can create whatever you desire. You simply create a pattern, cut out your shape and away you go.
No scroll saw? Can I suggest keeping an eye out for one on Craigslist? They are very handy. No, okay than. ClickityClack on Etsy sells precut wooden animal figures. They have tons of different sets, so you should be able to find something that work for you. All you have to do is paint!
Paint and other craft supplies are definitely going to have to be a future feature here, as I haven’t found paint that doesn’t come in a plastic container yet. I use Stockmar watercolors, which are both vary concentrated and you can buy in large containers, but those containers are still plastic. If you have them around the house, watered down acrylic craft paints will give a similar effect.
Still not convinced or just not into painting? The next option is looking for used toys on Craigslist or Facebook. I’ve never seen them on my local Craigslist and the few times I’ve seen them on Facebook they were snatched up fast. If you decide to go with this option be prepared to bide your time. Except for the packing tape, this option could be totally plastic free.
Can’t find any used? There are several wahm shops on etsy that produce amazing wooden animals. Mirus Toys makes gorgeous sets of wooden animals. They are maple wood and painted with soy paint. Each set is a different biome and many include flora as well as fauna! Even better they are CPSC compliant, which means their toys are tested for safety.
Each etsy shop wraps and packs their items differently, but most shop owners will happily cut down or eliminate as much plastic as they can if you ask them to.
Etsy isn’t your thing? There are two great small brands that make wooden animals, both in Germany. Holztiger sells hand painted hardwood animals that are available from Amazon in case you are having a wooden animal emergency. They even make dinosaurs! They tend to be a little more cartoon-ish than the other brand of wooden animals that I’m going to recommend, but I’ve also found them to be sturdier. Amazon packaging is going to include plastic, but their air pillows can be recycled in most places. Each animal comes with a glossy paper tag tied around their neck with a elastic string.
Ostheimer also made gorgeous hand painted hardwood animals. These animals are clearly heirloom toys and I have to stop myself from buying them for me. They tend to be more realistic than the Holztiger animals, but their tails and horns tends to be a bit more fragile. I buy mine from The Wooden Wagon, which carries a full selection of animals. Ostheimer animals each have a glossy paper tags tied around their neck with elastic string, but Wooden Wagon uses packing peanuts instead of Amazon’s air pillows.
Hopefully one of these options will help you meet your plastic reduction goals this holiday season!