Eco Toy Packaging

As a parent of two small children, I find myself pontificating about things I never have before. Where my life formerly centered around friends, Friday nights and shopping, I now think more about the environment, my children’s health and how to get milk gob off of my clothes.

mother shopping

This leads into my pet peeve of the decade topic…consumer goods packaging, specifically, the packaging that accompanies children’s toys and crafts. I recently bought my daughter a doll that came with so much more than just a toy brush and hair clips. I realized this was truly a gift of copious amounts of cardboard, plastic clips, metal ties and glossy (toxic?) paint. After extricating the doll from the cardboard sheath and plastic clips and all the while wondering if an engineering degree and blow torch would have sped the process up, I realized I had more packaging than toy! I have to ask myself what I am sure thousands of parents around the world have thought at one time or another. “Is this good for the environment?”, “Is it setting a good example for my children?”, “Doesn’t the packaging add unnecessary costs to a simple toy?”.

So now I have to ask myself why manufacturers do this when it is so obviously wrong on many levels. My personal conclusion was disturbing and embarrassing. The companies that make and market these toys do this because of me! Lavishly packaged toys sell more units because I buy them. I didn’t buy the plain cotton doll; I bought this plastic and glitzy cardboard encased monstrosity. Take your children to the toy store and they automatically gravitate towards the shiniest, brightest and exciting looking toys on the shelf. Unwrap it at home however and it just becomes another plaything with all the rest.

Some recommendations to help you around this issue are:

1) Buy the toys you like but write a letter (email) to the manufacturer and ask them to change their packaging.

2) Boycott toys with excessive packaging and let your friends know too.

3) Buy eco friendly toys. There are many great brands out there….


9 Responses

  1. I’ve noticed this too. I don’t know why the toys need to be so secure in the box. It’s not like they are explosives! Meanwhile, as I am trying to wrestle the toy out of the packaging, my daughter is practically hyperventillating with anticipation.

  2. Children are just as happy playing with the cardboard box that the toy came in, but with all this hideous plastic packaging we can’t even let them do that. They would cut themselves to ribbons.

  3. I just finished filling booty bags for my DD’s upcoming birthday party. By the time we’d done unwrapping all the goods I had already half-filled a garbage bag. And that’s before the party has even started. And of course I was recycling what I could, so the garbage was purely plastic wrapping. Shame I didn’t think ahead when I was doing the shopping, but time is never on a busy mom’s side.

  4. I know right. That is such a great point you’ve made. I think that the amount of wastage that corporations use is ridiculous. You think they would use very minimal amounts of material to be cheap…like everything else. Haha. Well, I will certainly do my best to avoid purchasing anything that has that amount of packaging. Great post.

  5. Most toys are made in China, so they need to be protected and kept hygienically clean until they get to you, through a long and often complicated distribution chain. Toy regulations say the packaging has to withstand a drop test, and must be safe from crushing etc. Then you have to be able to see the toy in the packaging so you know what you are buying, and the toy has to be held in an attractive manner so that you want to buy it. Then, sadly, people steal things, so the toy packaging has to be hard to get into otherwise people would just open it in store and steal the toy. You can make your choices of course, but don’t automatically say the packaging is ‘excessive’, it has a complicated job to do.

  6. I take your point Martin, but really does a plastic doll need to be secured in its box with 20 wire ties?

  7. I can’t stand all that packaging. I have to break out my good knife set just to get into the darn thing and then I break a nail and by the time I am done getting the toy out I am as frustrated as anything and I feel like tossing the toy out the window. But, my daughter likes to watch me suffer….she thinks it’s funny. My trying to open the package is probably better entertainment for her than the toy.

  8. Oh, the bain of my existence, wires, plastic that could cut my wrists (although after wrestling with needless packaging I am well on my own way to doing that) …

    I avoid Toys R Us like the plague … I can barely even look at the store when I drive by one.

    That is why at Raspberry Kids we only carry toys that are eco-friendly and have minimal or recyclable packaging including:

    Sprig Toys
    Plan Toys
    Ecotronics (we will be replenishing this great line soon)

    And we are always on the lookout for more so if you find any great ones, please send them my way (my contact details are below).

    Great post Rookie Mom Survival Guide and good luck choosing the new name for your book!


    Sue Sinclair
    Chief Executive Mom, Raspberry Kids

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  9. KUDOS to you!!!! Wow, I wish we had more parents who felt this way. As a pediatrician I try to emphasise to my parents the importance of healthy eating, loving the environment, decreasing our children’s exposure to toxins, etc. It may not be one particular exposure, but when you add up multiple exposures all day long then we have what I feel is a problem on our hands.

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