By Shermakaye Bass
Green Right Now
It’s the giving season once again, and already we’re decking halls, basting turkeys, stringing lights and scratching our heads over what Santa might send down the chimney. It’s a tough call this year, considering our less-than-merry economy. Even old St. Nick is tightening his belt.
But child-safety advocates have a message: Resist the temptation to cheap out. With purse-strings tighter than ever, don’t be seduced by dubious toys – products that may have chemical coatings, phthalates or lead paint, are poorly designed or just aren’t age appropriate. That’s not to say “cheap” always equals “inferior,” says Chicago-based consumer advocate Nancy Cowles. Locally or simply made toys can be quite durable and affordable. But while you’re looking to avoid problems, save money and save the planet, ’tis the season for research and reason.
“With the economy like it is, we’re concerned that people will be looking more to dollar stores and things like Craig’s List, E-bay and second-hand stores,” says Cowles, executive director of Kids in Danger a toy-safety consumer group. “Our concern is that recalled products often turn up in these places. …We certainly don’t discourage people from shopping second hand, but it’s a little less safe, especially the dollar stores.”
Also, deep discount stores aren’t exactly known for their eco-sound products. Cheap items are usually cheap for any number of reasons: They’re outdated, poorly constructed or have been recalled, or they may come from countries where labor is cheap and consumer/environment protections are nil.
Perhaps the real money-saving formula this holiday season, then, is quality over quantity. Maybe it’s best to spend a bit more on one or two high-quality toys.