Toxic Toys: What to Avoid and Why March 22 2017, 0 Comments
The harm that plastic does to our oceans and environment is indisputable, but in a single day, the amount of plastic that we are in contact with is frequent and often hard to avoid. While some of the plastic forms part of permanent fixtures such as computers and furniture, up to 50% is disposable and can only be used once. Plastic pollution inevitably ends up in our water sources, be it seas, lakes or rivers. The Macarthur Foundation estimates that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. Plastic never biodegrades, it will only break down into microfibers that are then eaten by aquatic animals such as seabirds, sea turtles and fish. Every single piece of plastic ever made still exists in the world around us, and the shocking reality is that the amount of plastic created from 2000-2010 is more than ALL plastic produced in history prior to this century.
It is hard to put these numbers into perspective especially if the ocean you visit still looks clear and pollution-free, but the damage done by plastic pollution to humans and wildlife is unmistakable. It is approximated that plastic debris already outnumbers sea life six to one in The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Humans who eat these fish are ultimately ingesting our own plastic waste. BPA (bisphenol A), which is found in plastic products such as bottles, bags and toys, is an endocrine disrupter. The chemical itself is invisible, and can seep into our daily lives unnoticed. What this entails is the disruption of hormonal functions and our endocrine system, the worst-case scenarios being increased risk of breast cancer and compromises of the immune system. Low-dosage exposures can be detrimental to adults, but catastrophic to children. While over time and decreased contact with endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), the negative effects on adults can eventually subside, for children the consequences are often only apparent later in life. This ranges from reproductive abnormalities to malformations or developmental problems, which are irreversible. It is thus essential to divert children’s contact with EDCs in as many fields as possible, and an avoidable aspect is toxic plastic toys.
Each and every considered purchase choice can protect both the environment and our future generation. The amount of money spent on toys for each child in the United Kingdom is 350GBP or 438USD annually. Many toys are only played with for a matter of weeks before being abandoned or disposed. Around 7.8 billion dollars are spent on plastic toys annually, and in the year of 2012, 12.31 million units of children’s products were recalled in the United States for reasons of safety or toxicity, to be disposed of in landfill. However, with a more cautious approach when buying or gifting toys, this situation can be vastly improved! We encourage you to purchase higher quality toys that can be reused and played with over many years. As children spend time with their toys, they should be non-toxic, sustainable and biodegradable in order to minimize contact with EDCs, and multifunctional as to replace many of the cheap toxic toys in the collection. Otherwise, activities such as spending time and reading to children, or allowing them to experience nature is a better alternative to simply giving them more ‘stuff’ as a distraction. Children are inclined to play with whatever they have on hand, so choose carefully.
Other than the household-name brands that are often associated with children’s toys, something to consider is buying toys from new sustainable toy producers with the focus of protecting the environment. An example is Twoodie from Japan. This is a company that produces wooden blocks, that are completely organic, safe and biodegradable. Inspired by doing beach cleanups in Hong Kong and witnessing the sheer amount of plastic rubbish left in the oceans, the founders decided to make change happen. Twoodie toys have gone through rigorous testing and are endocrine disruption free. The damage from environmental pollution is reflected in our health, communities and the environment, and Twoodie has created a singular toy solution to eliminate as much waste from the toy industry as possible, prioritizing both the safety of consumers and sustainability.
In order to make a dent in the problem of toxic toys and plastic landfill, the Plastic Ocean Foundation encourages you to be conscious of the purchasing decisions you make. Buy less and buy better.