Starting a family or have a new baby? First off, buckle up for years of joy, arduous work, heart-warming moments, mind-numbingly boring…well, you get it, its a roller coaster ride.
If you already have kids you know one challenge of modern parenting is being swamped with plastic waste. Cheap plastic toys, diapers with plastics inside, bottles, kitchenware, markers, the list goes on.
There is also paradox of pouring all this time and energy into raising a healthy child while simultaneously degrading the planet they’ll inherit.
Below are some companies and products that can help you navigate the early years without all that guilt and cognitive dissonance.
The Onion recently ran a piercingly hilarious “article” about a child entertained for 5 minutes by plastic toy that will take 1,000 years to biodegrade. It is funny because it is a true but depressing observation about the ridiculously wasteful nature of plastic. Who needs a toy that last hundreds of years? Unless that toy is going to be melted down made into something else numerous times.
Enter Green Toys stage left! You can feel good about adding Green Toys’ indestructible construction trucks, bath toys, and other awesome stuff made of recycled milk jugs to your child’s toy room. Green Toys has an extensive line of eco-friendly, environmentally sustainable toys made from recycled plastic, mostly made from milk jugs but also yogurt cups and such.
Green Toys makes all of its toys here in the US. They are approaching 60 million milk jugs recycled into new products. If you wanted to you could fulfill all of a child’s playroom needs with toys made from recycled plastic with this company. They also use recycled material for their packaging, including recycled cardboard and recycled plastic bottles.
We have their construction truck, as well as numerous other toys from their collection, and we are very satisfied. Their eco-friendly products are constructed of thick plastic, much more solid than most flimsy plastic toys, and our son has been unable to destroy it despite numerous attempts (ha ha, kidding but he plays rough). Of course, Green Toys products can also be recycled at the end of their life, but as I said, these toys are solid and will likely be passed down to multiple families through garage sales and trips to Goodwill.
RE-PLAY’S RECYCLED PLASTIC KITCHENWARE
Your old discarded plastic milk jugs reincarnated into durable, practical, and super useful plates. We’ve been using these plates for years, they are like part of our family. Built to withstand the most grueling mistreatment by your cute little toddler, these things are indestructible.
These plates, and really everything from this company, does really well on our sustainability checklist…so relax and enjoy, you can feel good about this purchase:
- Made from used milk jugs, buying these plates diverts plastic from landfills and saves energy.
- When you’re done with these plates they can be recycled and made into something else.
- Though the company doesn’t provide much information about its sustainability efforts, it is family operated and owned, and made here in the USA.
- This is a high-quality product for a good price (our set is 10 years old and going strong!).
CHICO’S RECYCLED PLASTIC SNACK BAGS
ChicoBag is taking plastic bottles and transforming them into bags of all shapes and sizes, including these really handy snack bags. We use the ChicoBags, made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, to pack dry snacks in the kids’ lunches, packing a sandwich for work, or when leaving the house for a family bike ride.
Note that the bags are not waterproof, so they’re really for crackers, sandwiches, that kind of thing. We have found that to make living a environmentally sustainable lifestyle practical, it’s helpful to have multiple options for packing food if you want to avoid single-use plastic.
This snack bag, and the company, is another star performer for R & R, these folks check all the boxes in terms of environmentally sustainable and socially responsible business practices:
- ChicoBags are made up a 100% recycled plastic
- ChicoBag will take back old worn-out bags, even ones not made by their company and distribute them to low income families
- Company has a yearly environmental impact statement that details their approach, spoiler alert: they are kicking butt!
- They are a certified B Corporation who is working hard to use fair trade practices, just spectacular!
- And yes, it is a high quality product at a reasonable price
Between the quality products, environmental sustainability, and socially responsible practices, this is truly a great company to support.
KIDS’ TOOTHBRUSHES MADE FROM RECYCLED PLASTIC
Preserve is collecting up your trash, turning it into great products, and helping the planet…this company is so awesome I just want to fill my house with their products.
Everything they make is manufactured from recycled #5 plastic, they have a program where they collect up plastic from consumers, cleverly called Gimme 5. We use so many of their products (like their mini food storage containers).
Care for your children’s future (I mean their teeth and the Earth) with these high-quality toothbrushes made from your recycled discarded yogurt cups. We have been using these for years, they work perfectly for small children, kids love ’em, and they are recyclable and of course made from recycled plastic. Once our daughter hit 6 years hold, we switched to the adult size, which also works great.
This product totally rocks our sustainability checklist:
- Made from your recycled yogurt cups, saves energy and diverts plastic from the landfill.
- Done with this product? Send it back to the company (or drop it off at a participating location) and they will reincarnate and renew it, little to no waste! Plus, Preserve will give you a $6 coupon for every six toothbrushes you mail them.
- Certified B Corporation, this company is doing it the right way, they are an inspiration!
- Their products are built to last, high quality, and reasonably priced.
SUSTAINABLE TOYS FROM TEGU
Although not technically made from recycled plastic, Tegu’s magnetic blocks are awesome and sustainable. I would recommend them even if they didn’t have a heart warming and inspiring origination story, use environmentally sustainable practices, and promote recycling and reuse of materials.
The owners, two brothers, started their journey with the question, “Could we create a for-profit company based in Honduras that would foster a positive social impact through its business?” According to the CIA factbook, Honduras is the 170th poorest country in the world. And if you have been watching the news about immigration in the U.S., you should be aware that many of the people from Central America migrating to our country are fleeing unstable conditions in Honduras, among other Central American countries.
Tegu is is focused on creating a beacon of hope, through economic development, fair wages, and stable employment for its 200 employees to catalyze change in Honduras. Plus, Americans, whether they know it or not, owe Hondurans a little help after the less than noble actions that our government has taken throughout Honduran history (it was one of the original banana republics and we’ve kind of messed around there more recently as well).
The company uses environmentally sustainable practices to harvest the wood for their blocks and other toys, using local hardwood that is abundant in Honduran forests. Also, they will accept their used products, in fact they are pleading with customers (see the bottom of the FAQs) not to throw their blocks away. Tegu will pay the shipping so they can renew their blocks and reuse them rather than having them end up in a landfill.
Finally, their products (we own this collection) are thoughtfully designed and very high quality, a toy that is timeless and will entertain kids and nurture their imaginations for hours on end. A great product that you can feel good about buying for your burgeoning engineers and builders!
Here at R&R we only endorse products we have owned, tested, and fell in love with. If you end up making a purchase through one of our affiliate links, we may earn a very small commission that offsets the cost of hosting, building, and maintaining this site.