Fantastic plastic toys
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Plastic toys get a very bad rap these days, for the same reason the material is denigrated elsewhere – it’s terrible news for the environment. And unless the plastic used has been certified free of BPA and phthalates, then it’s potentially bad for children’s health too. But these toy brands prove that a plaything doesn’t always have to be wooden to be eco-credible.
Wishbone RE2 2in1 Bike
Made from recycled bottles and carpet, this balance bike is suitable from 18 months to six years, with a frame that flips from low to high as your child grows. It is also lighter in weight and has lower carbon emissions than an equivalent steel bike, and the use of zero-additive colour components in the Raw version means it can be easily recycled all over again when it reaches the end of its life. £127, kidly.co.uk
Dantoy Bioplastic Toy Coffee Kit
Danish brand Dantoy’s bioplastic is made from ethanol extracted from sugarcane (grown on pesticide-free plantations) and is 100 per cent recyclable. It also claims to remove 3.09kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for each kilo of manufactured bioplastic. And with this coffee set, unlike the wooden equivalents, you can chuck it in the dishwasher when they’ve finished making mud pies. £21, smallable.com
Green Toys Recycling Truck
Recycled milk bottles are the starting point for this made-in-California toy brand. When they say 100 per cent recycled plastic, they mean it – everything from pull-along wagons to rockets are manufactured without the use of glue, metal, screws or paint. Packaging, which is where some eco toy brands can fall down, is also impressive – toys arrive in their box without the use of blister packs, twist ties or cellophane. £23.99, bigjigstoys.com
Geomag Eco Classic Colour Kit, 42 pieces
It’s not quite the new Lego – nothing will ever be the new Lego – but magnetic construction sets are big in the world of toys right now. Swiss-made brand Geomag has managed to make its “classic” line ecologically sound: rods, panels and bases are all made using 100 per cent recycled plastic. (Small parts make these kits suitable for 3+.) £27, thetoyshop.com
Engel Large Recycled Plastic Backpack
Not a toy per se, but bags are up there with sticks and boxes when it comes to the ultimate toy for encouraging the holy grail of imaginative, open-ended play in the under-fives. The eco leader in the kids’ backpack field is Engel, whose canvas designs are made from recycled bottle caps and have a 1980s-esque gender-neutral chic too. £40, smallable.com
Whirli.com Toy Library
To embrace the reduce, reuse, recycle ethos fully, try renting instead of buying. Toy “library” (sadly not free) Whirli.com allows you to borrow everything from right-on German brands, such as the traditional Grimm’s wooden rainbow, to the definitely-not-environmentally-friendly plastic Paw Patrol tat that your four-year-old actually wants, and then send it all back a few weeks later when even the children can’t bear the noise anymore. All toys are cleaned and sterilised on return (exact details can be found in the Covid-19 section of their website). From £10 a month (plus delivery), whirli.com