What kind of toys out kids really need? And more- how many of them? I am one of those parents whose children’s room is already filled with plastic. Looking highly attractive and fun with their bright colors, they have left little space to breathe inside.
There are toys everywhere, on the desk, on the bed, in the corners, on the floor, in special toy boxes…
Our kids get toys as a present for their birthdays, for Christmas, whenever our parents visit us… Therefore, they provide entertainment for a very short period and they get easily forgotten.
Yet, we all emphasize the fleeting moment of joy when our little ones receive one of these “goodies” and forget that they are a choking hazard, and they clutter our homes and pollute our planet.
According to a 2017 survey by the website ecobirdy.com, 90 percent of all children’s toys are made completely out of plastic.
Have you ever thought of the effect of all that plastic? Environmentalists claim that this massive amount of plastic contributes to the plastic pollution we struggle to reduce in the last several years.
Last year, the total toy sales worldwide reached over 90 billion dollars. Moreover, these toys do not last, and children quickly move to the next craze.
According to a poll by the British Heart Foundation, over 25 percent of parents have discarded completely functioning toys, and kids have at least four toys that they’ve never played with even once.
Kevin Brigden, a senior scientist at Greenpeace International Science Unit, says:
“If it’s a flimsy plastic toy that clearly isn’t going to have more than a lifetime of a few days or weeks, would you really want to be getting that material? As soon as you open it, you’ll be putting it into the waste stream.”
Plastic takes thousands of years to break down, and when it does, it releases microplastics in the soil and ocean which can end up in our bodies.
Unfortunately, even though recycling is an effective method to combat this problem, less than 10% of plastic waste gets recycled.
Plastic toys are even more problematic. Brent Bell, vice president of recycling at Waste Management, a company that provides recycling solutions to businesses and residences in North America, explains that most of them are not good candidates for recycling, as they are also composed of other materials that are prohibited in recycling centers, like metals.
Apart from the environment, they endanger the health of our kids as well. For instance, the chemicals used to soften the plastic, phthalates, have been linked to health issues like diabetes, cancer, and birth defects.
This can be especially dangerous for babies and young toddlers who are constantly putting their toys in their mouths.
Many psychologists are also worried about the effects of the meltdowns over a new plastic toy on the shelves and the quick dopamine fix after you buy it.
Instead of supporting it in the case of a tantrum, they encourage parents to give kids what they really need- love. They advise stimulating the release of the healing and more gentle oxytocin, by hugging, kidding, and holding them.
Environmentalists claim that it is time to raise awareness for the effects of the use of plastic toys, and remember the old-fashioned ones, we used in the past, made of more sustainable materials.
It is time to replace plastic toys with ones made of wood, cotton, metal, and natural rubber.
Plus, think about the number of toys your child needs. Children don’t need new toys all the time, so encourage them to play with the ones they already have, instead of asking for new ones.
Yet, when they need one, think about what it will teach your kid. Will the new toy help your children develop their reasoning skills, and will it boost their creativity and imagination?