Think Before You Buy

I recently mentioned my frustration at the toy advertisements arriving in the mail just in time for the holidays. You’d think with all the buzz about living eco-friendly and green, the big toy makers might catch on and stop making single function, zero imagination toys. But no. The Target catalog is lined with page after page of toys that do just one thing, are made of plastic and generally need batteries. There’s a mysterious absence of toys that encourage creativity.


Dance Star Mickey – He walks, talks and dances (and entertains your kid for about 5 minutes before he’s tossed into a corner)

Why sell toys that kids can use for several different purposes when you can sell one that does X, one that does Y and one that does Z? The more focused the toy, the more toys they can sell and the more money they can make! Nevermind that simple toys are better for children. They can’t be mass produced and where’s the money in that? And who cares about all of the trash the toys that are played with for a week or two until they break or kids tire of them produce?!

I’m not saying “down with all plastic toys.” All I ask is before you shop for toys or presents in general this holiday season, think before you buy. That’s all. Vote with your dollars.

Another way to make a difference this holiday season is by participating in Give The Gift of Green through One Million Acts of Green Facebook Application. There are several cute e-cards with various Acts of Green on them that you send to your friends on Facebook. I just sent one to Lisa from Retro Housewife Goes Green pledging to turn off my computer when I’m not using it. The card adds, “That’s only 14 minutes per day, but it’s a start.” Ain’t that the truth?! It takes just a minute and helps spread the green message. It’s fun, easy and for a good cause. :)

If you haven’t yet checked out One Million Acts of Green, I encourage you to read my intro post and learn more about how you can start logging and sharing your Acts of Green.

Disclosure: Rockfish Interactive, in partnership with Cisco, is compensating me for my considerable time on this project. However, my ideas, words, and opinions are my own and are not influenced by this compensation.

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10 thoughts on “Think Before You Buy

  1. agreed, sister.

    When Moose my oldest was born, I was strict about wooden toys NOT made in China…then, his first birthday party happened and my notions went by the wayside.

    A singing plastic wonderland grew like weeds on a lawn in June… Not a grandmother heeded my “batteries not included” request.

    Grrr.

    I returned a lot.

    This year, I want experiences for them. Museum passes. College fund money.

    Ya know, things that don’t sing in my frontroom at 3:30 a.m.

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  3. That’s funny b/c 25 years ago or so I had a dancing Minnie Mouse.

    We’re trying to be very deliberate in our purchases these days. I find that I consider my purchases more when a) I don’t go to stores unless I need something in particular and b) don’t have a television, so no ads. It’s made a huge difference. I used to just “go shopping” as a leisure activity and I bought so much stuff I later gave to good will!

  4. I am trying to have a clutter-free, no batteries, Canadian made/sold Christmas. Yes, there are some gifts that will take batteries, but I try to buy from a Canadian store instead of ….the one that starts with W…I’m buying a lot from http://www.etsy.com, and from local, independant toy stores. There are LOTS of cool toys out there that don’t take batteries, but you have to go to the small stores to find them. It’s worth it though! I don’t want to give a gift that someone will say “I saw that at Wal…”

  5. I have long said to family members not to buy my daughter plastic. We don’t either, unless it’s something really exciting.
    It works for my side of the family.

    We live in a situation where even the most toy drooling parent can’t have access to frequent toy buying. Our kids, thus, have the ability to play with whatever comes along.
    A friend who lives here too recently visited Belgium (that’s where we’re all from) and got amazed remarks from her mom friends about her child’s imaginative play. They said their kids only play with what they have and then only the game it’s designed for.
    Isn’t that sad?

    I’m not against toys, but I completely agree that one should rationalize it’s toy buying policy

  6. Doing a plastic free Christmas at our house! As many wooden and handmade toys as I can. Not that I am making the toys, HA! But I am finding many amazing toy makers this year on Etsy.
    Great post!

  7. Oh, I’ve given up on this battle. My kids are young enough that fortunately I can usually spirit away toys like this unopened and then donate them. I’ve tried to convince people we don’t need them but either I’m ignored or accused of being a fanatic.

    So, I make a suggestion list for family who gift to the kids, which everyone but my mom roundly ignores. Then I model gracious thankfulness and encourage my kids to say thank you for every gift. And then I quietly get rid of at least half the stuff.

  8. This has been quite the battle for the last 4 years. Sadly, I failed quite a bit and we are home to more plastic, blinking, talking toys than I’d like to admit. I’ve had enough and want to get back to more natural toys. Thankfully, my son does have a very good imagination. We have told family that we want to avoid plastic, avoid things made in China and want to keep it simple. Not everyone listens, though, and it’s best to just stay gracious as another poster noted. :-)

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