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:
- 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.
- 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!
- Blankets. They can be used for peekaboo with people and objects.
- 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.
- 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.
- Drawing/painting/cutting and gluing. My husband brings home scratch paper from work, so this is zero impact. Plus, we recycle.
- 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.
- Bubbles. I don't bother with the glycerin you see in most recipes; I just add water to dish soap. No complaints yet.
- 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.
- 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!
- Reading library books. My kids l-o-v-e to read, and if yours don't, it's time to cultivate this passion.
- Drawing. Just like the younger kids, but with nicer colored pencils and paper that doesn't have old invoices on the other side.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!