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Ridding the Ocean of Plastics

We still have the afterglow of the holiday cheers, highlighted by the opening and gifting of presents. As eco parents, we tried to fill the gift sack with sustainable items like food, books, and wooden toys. We do have some items that will not approve every green parents' holiday list but it definitely brought shrieks and genuine delight in our children's eyes - win for being the best parents but lost points for the planet.

Why do we concern ourselves of these eco decisions specially with toys, you might ask?

1 / Well, firstly, did you know that the toys industry is the most plastic intensive manufacturing industry in the world?

While eco toys are gaining popularity, still 90% of the toys being manufactured right now are made of plastic. For some reason, 80% of those plastic toys end up on a heap of trash like the landfill or the ocean. This year, there is an estimated 410,000 tons of plastic waste that will be dumped in the ocean. With the rate that this is going, we need another Earth to have enough resources to rid this waste.

2 / Plastic toys can contain hazardous chemicals that are unsafe for young children specially babies

It doesn't look harmful, isn't it, but cute when we see our children trying to learn by chewing on their toys. But soft, light, and chewable toys may contain hormone-disrupting material like phthalates, impacting their reproductive health. About 92% of randomly tested plastic toys came out with an alarming presence of dangerous chemicals and just think of how much more plastic toys are not tested out there.

3 / The plastic toys we buy for our children have a high chance that it is made by children

Sad news but true. It's estimated that child laborers will work for 10.0M hours in 2022 while their generated profits is accounted to almost $USD5.0M. The modern day slavery have not gone and this rings true in China, where majority of the toys are being made.

What's the alternative?

1 / Support sustainable companies offering eco toys

Sustainable toys can come from companies, second hand stores, or hand-me downs. I sometimes score toys from the 1900s from the o.p. shop (an opportunity shop is a second hand or dollar shop that aims to raise funds for non-profit organizations) and they still look good because they are made from solid timber hardwood.

2 / Look for the toy safety certification seal

The consumer protection in the US recommends a number of toy safety laboratory testing centers including TUV, that is popular in Europe, and SGS. The results will show the level of chemicals that the toy contains such as lead. The factories we work with have close relationships with these testing centers to ensure we meet the global safety standards including US and EU.

3 / Finding factories that work on fair trade schemes

Research on companies using factories that work on fair trade schemes and favorable working conditions. The more that we become aware and support these factories, the better we help the sustainable industries to survive. We might never find the Google equivalent of a toy factory but who knows, a resting pod will be nice.

4 / Tell everyone early on and consistently about your chosen lifestyle

I can imagine the many horrified faces of parents who received plastic toys during the holidays, even though they have specifically asked for either no gifts, no plastic toys, or just send something from the gift registry. It's difficult to bridge that generation gap because ours just decided to flip it for them without warning - a total change from what the previous society is used to. It will take a lot of patience and education for your journey to thrive so have hope and have faith.

5 / Hear from experts, be an expert.. get involved in your community

Living sustainably can be challenging specially if it's a personal choice in which it's difficult to source companies locally who can support your journey. I encourage you to join your local sustainability communities including wooden toy groups in your neighborhood or the social media.

As part of our sustainability initiative, The House of Sprouts pledge to rid 2,500 plastic toys from the ocean by the end of 2022. This isn't enough to heal the planet but we'd like to start somewhere now. Together, we can do more. Here's our ocean clean-up project with Handprint Tech's Seven Clean Seas in Bintan, Indonesia: LEARN MORE.

We pledge to rid 2,500 plastic toys from the ocean by the end of 2022.

We pledge to rid 2,500 plastic toys from the ocean by the end of 2022.

Design your playroom at home in 5 doable steps, done in under 10 minutes per day.

Design your playroom at home in 5 doable steps, done in under 10 minutes per day.