By Shermakaye Bass and Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Want to stay safe, avoid toxic toy recalls and make your toy selections a little greener this season? There are no guarantees but here are few ideas:

  • If you have a pint-size chef in your midst, he or she might like a pastel-colored cook set made from recycled (American) milk jugs – no BPA or phthalates. Green Toys’ Cookware Set, for ages 3 and up, includes a stock pot with lid, skillet, four place settings including eating utensils, plates, bowls and cups. About $40.00 . Green Toys also makes a bang-up sandbox set from recycled milk jugs. For around $20, it includes a bucket, sand-castle mold, shovel and rake.
  • Your little adventurer/explorer, age five and up, will enjoy donning a Terra Kids headlamp and exploring granny’s basement or nearby woods. Great for sleep overs! It’s an actual headlamp – a small LED light attached to a adjustable elastic band. $35 from Waldorf Toys/Willow Tree Toys. Made in China “under close supervision of Haba of Germany.”
  • How about giving your kids a heavenly body for Christmas? Uncle Milton’s “Moon in My Room,” sold by Melissa & Doug and available from Fat Brain Toys, is an illuminated miniature orb that your child can hang on the wall and use to track twelve different phases of the moon – to match the real moon outside or to go with Jr’s mood. The set includes an educational audio CD teaching moon trivia, an auto shut-off to preserve battery life, and infrared remote control. Ages 6+ Approximately $30.
  • Aspiring young greenies ages 8 and up might appreciate a make-it-yourself clean energy Wind Power Toy – from Fat Brain Toys. It comes with several suggested experiments and dozens of small parts, so beware that younger siblings stay clear. Made in Taiwan. $49.95
  • Know a busy little tyke aching to use his muscles and new found hand-eye coordination? Check out the Miracle Pounding Wood Toy, also available at Fat Brain and made in Thailand by Plan Toys. This toy costs more, $29.95, but might just be indestructible and qualify as a family hand-me-down.
  • And every newly mobile toddler needs a walking toy. Find one in wood with a non-toxic finish at North Star Toys, an American toymaker with green credentials dating back three decades. The Let’s Go Walking Puppy couldn’t be cuter and it’s made in New Mexico and finished with vegetable oils. Sold for $26.

Some green options may have a few more travel miles than we’d sustainably like. But sometimes these matters aren’t so clear cut. Organics from a company committed to sustainability in another country can trump resource-wasteful toys (think heavy on the plastics) in our own. Which makes these worthy of consideration:

  • Nuno Organics is great one-stop safe-toy shopping for the truly earthy looking for younger kids. Among the offerings are a cool, brightly painted wooden block geometrical jigsaw puzzle for ages 4 and up, $54. It’s designed to challenge little noggins — encourage their three-dimensional thinking and perception of patterns.  For tykes, how about all-natural wood sports cars or “vintage” trucks, such as a handmade miniature “Bugatti” sports car from Finland ($19), or a Finnish “Ford-T Truck” ($39) lacquered with non-toxic Beckers paint, also carried by Nuno Organics.
  • Terra Experience is a world market that imports toys and clothes made by artisans in developing nations such as these “Ethnic Doll Clothes for American Girl Dolls” made in Guatamala and elsewhere and selling for $25-$30. The women who make the traditional outfits from Central America, for instance, earn a living that they use to support educational and village improvements.
  • Terra is committed to Fair Trade principles, and their products fall more into the “socially responsible” category than the strictly green. But if the holidays and the latest economic twists have taught us anything, it’s that we’re all on spaceship Earth together. So if you’ve got an American Girl doll to clothe, it just might help feed a Central American child.

Copyright © 2008 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media