Buying plastic-free gifts for children can be a challenge when there is a giant toy industry over-saturated in plastic toys, and with TV adverts constantly, and loudly, promoting these toys to both adults and children.
When my daughter was small, I found there was a decent choice available of eco-friendly baby and toddler toys for her, and ways of playing that meant we could use more natural materials. I used to find handmade toys for her too (my friend made the doll for her in the post photo!)
It was something I always wanted to do as a parent - to avoid plastic, battery filled toys that not only would be over-sensory for her, but were also produced in a planet polluting way. Now she is a bit older, she has increasingly begun asking me for toys that a lot of her friends have, that are plastic based, and it’s a lot harder to navigate. I’ve gently explained to her the reasons why we are hesitant to buy these for her, and we are making steps towards her having toys that she loves while staying true to our eco-friendlier choices. Thankfully, she loves being outdoors, so this Christmas, one of her big gifts is having an amazing metal climbing frame which will last years! We also buy from the charity shops, where she can take her pocket money and essentially buy whatever she likes as what she buys will be having another use with money going to charity. A win-win!
There are a lot of companies making a conscious effort to sell greener toys, and a quick Google search will show some brands doing this. There are even toys that are made using recycled plastics, which is great. Our online Nature Makers shop has a range of responsibly sourced toys, books, and art materials which make perfect gifts (click SHOP at the top of the page!)
With budget an issue for most people at the moment especially, as I mentioned, charity shops and secondhand selling websites like Ebay, Vinted and Gumtree can be useful for finding brilliant gifts in barely used or even brand new condition. Adults hoping to make more eco purchases may feel more comfortable buying repurposed plastic items and feel better about doing that rather than them ending up in landfill after one owner. It’s a great way of recycling toys!
How about experience gifts too, like vouchers? Totally plastic-free and mean that quality time is spent doing some things you love with those you love instead of buying more “stuff”. Nature Makers gift vouchers are exactly this and can be bought from the shop to use for classes, or from each Activity Art Provider in your area.
If you love the idea of home made gifts but wouldn't know where to start then why not try homemade play dough? We give you our recipe here. Your little one will have lots of fun with play dough! You could visit the charity shop looking for rollers an cookie cutters to add to the fun.
As the climate crisis is very real and happening around us, plastic-free gift buying for not only our children but for our families and friends has never been more important. We don’t need to feel overwhelmed by it, but can each do our small part in making it better - especially at Christmastime.
Guest blog by Becki from Nature Makers Lichfield & Walsall.