Eco-friendly and Sustainable play practices: how to teach children to take care of the planet.
In recent years, parents all around the world have been not only giving their preference to safer toys, but also thinking about teaching their kids to live more environmentally friendly lives. This means that toy manufacturers are forced to follow these trends and make children's products from eco-materials and reorient their production towards sustainability.
However, the plastic toys recycling problem remains a serious issue since most common plastic toys are made from refined petroleum products. This means that all these toys leave a high Carbon Footprint, which also emphasises the problem of production and transportation emissions caused by the extraction of oil or natural gas required to create plastic.
Of course, the mass use of eco-friendly toys for children will minimize waste and negative impact on the planet. However, the Sustainability Path is not the easiest and it is always difficult to form new habits in society.
First of all, it is important to understand the difference between the terms ‘sustainable’ and ‘eco-friendly’, as people often confuse these concepts. The term ‘eco-friendly’ primarily refers to the kind of materials toys are made of. Whereas a ‘sustainable’ toy is a much broader concept that means that that toy can be recycled without too much damage to the environment.
In our opinion, any toy that falls into the hands of kids should be environmentally friendly and safe. Unfortunately, the assortment of toy stores does not always meet these criteria. And adults, when choosing toys for their little ones, should carefully approach such a choice.
So where should parents start from when they decide to become more environmentally responsible and want to teach their children to take care of the environment as well? It goes without saying that different families will have different approaches depending on the age, interests and character of their children.
Here are 6 tips that you can use to help you:
1. Be consistent and learn yourself first. Do not demand from your child what you cannot do yourself. This usually involves buying groceries or clothing that you don't really need, but which are just nice to have. Set an example! Only discipline, conscious parenting, and deliberate actions will bring lasting results.
2. Don't focus on materialistic things, focus on emotions instead. Do not build a reward system based on the purchase of toys, clothes, and gadgets. Instead, prioritize spending time with your family. While it is impossible to completely rule out new toys, you can restrict your toddler to just a few high-quality toys that will last a long time.
3. Inspire your child. Watch some age-appropriate cartoons about nature and ecology with your kids. For young children, it can be: ‘Bambi’, ‘Over the Hedge’, "Bee Movie’, or ‘WALL-E’. Films are not only good at revealing our best qualities, but they also educate and help develop an understanding of the importance of ecology.
4. Do everything together. Involve the child in doing household chores with you, but make it an interesting project, not a boring routine job. For example, you might ask your child to help you sort your waste. If your child is old enough, let them do their own research and educate you on how to sort the garbage properly. Make your little one feel like an expert - show them how important they are.
5. Go through toys, clothes, painting supplies together. Figure out what is actually being used and what has not been touched in a long time. Then consider what options are available in your area to get rid of unwanted items in an environmentally friendly way – reselling, giveaways, donations, or recycling, and decide how to categorize your items. This process can serve as an excellent opportunity for your kids to become familiar with the concepts of generosity and kindness. Not only will your children learn to share, but they will also understand that things in their life cycle can have more than one owner and be valuable to multiple people.
6. Choose local producers! This will significantly reduce transportation footprint.
Do not forget that toys have an important role in kids’ development. Games and toys kids play can determine not only their emotional state, but also their intellectual and personal development, and development of their moral values and attitudes.
While it is more difficult for children than for adults to make long-term commitments, make informed choices and not perceive them as constraints, nurturing a generation with an eco-friendly mind can be one of the best investments in our sustainable future. And you, as parents, have the opportunity to do so with our mierEdu sustainable toys!