Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You Already Own Some Great Green Toys

I swear, I am not going to put even one paid ad in this post. :-)

This isn't because I am against making money on my blog--oh, no, no, no, my friends. It's because I don't want to steer you into the common trap of thinking you need to spend money to be green.

The best green toys are not toys at all. Today I followed my kids around a little and noted what they did. Here are the favorites:


  1. Putting things in and out of other things. Like: clothing in and out of drawers, plastic dishes in and out of cabinet, silverware in and out of dishwasher silverware holder.
  2. Housecats. Just petting them and making meow noises at them. When you pull the kitty's tail, it screeches and runs away--this toy teaches social skills!
  3. Blankets. They can be used for peekaboo with people and objects.
  4. Siblings. People like to pick on me because a large family isn't conventionally considered green. However, my kids entertain the baby as well as any Baby Einstein video, run without electricity, and didn't have to be imported from a third world country.
  5. Anything that makes a noise, placed in a securely closed container. I like to put random stuff in cylindrical oatmeal containers for the baby to shake and roll around.

In other words, if you have a baby, don't buy them toys. Just childproof enough that they can explore and then get out of their way.

Preschooler/Elementary Schooler:

  1. Drawing/painting/cutting and gluing. My husband brings home scratch paper from work, so this is zero impact. Plus, we recycle.
  2. Chilling in the dirt pile. We actually have a dirt version of a sandbox. It's just as good for trucks, gets awesomely messy when you add water, AND it's easier to find and remove the inevitable cat offerings.
  3. Bubbles. I don't bother with the glycerin you see in most recipes; I just add water to dish soap. No complaints yet.
  4. Helping me cook. This is a HUGE deal in my home. My children have came close to killing each other over who adds the dried blueberries to the granola. Whenever I cook, I choose a helper. The others get to lick the bowl and the beaters.
  5. Dress up. This is only ecologically sensible if you DO NOT wash the clothes until they are thoroughly filthy. I buy nifty stuff at garage sales and thrift stores--no expensive costumes here!


  1. Reading library books. My kids l-o-v-e to read, and if yours don't, it's time to cultivate this passion.
  2. Drawing. Just like the younger kids, but with nicer colored pencils and paper that doesn't have old invoices on the other side.
  3. Crafting. Now is the perfect time for your not-so-little one to learn the gift of productivity, and maybe work up to their own Etsy business.
  4. Social networking. People pick on Myspace, but I love having all of the preteen mischief be a matter of public record. I can investigate my son's friends and tell from the comments what stuff my kids are up to when I step out of earshot. Plus, they can visit almost constantly without Mom having to haul everyone around town.
  5. Playing sports. Remember those round things called... balls? They don't have to be nice, just bouncy and well inflated. Hours of cheap fun, and I bet you already have one somewhere.

So, that's what we're doing at the Marshall home while educational and commercial toys alike sit untouched in their bins. No batteries needed!