Non-plastic toys made of…. plastic…

Most toys are made from virgin plastic and cannot be recycled…

Toys are important

If you know anything about us, you may have heard us tooting this horn before. Toys are instrumental in the development of our little ones. They help develop so many skills that, as an adult, we take for granted.

The UK toy industry is worth about £3.3bn. That’s a lot of toys, with around £1bn being spent around christmas alone. But have you ever considered how many of these are plastic?

Most toys are made from virgin plastic and cannot be recycled

 

The lifespan of plastic

In the late 1940’s, Fisher Price started producing plastic toys. Since then, the industry has contributed an almost immeasurable amount of plastic waste to the world. With 90% of all toys sold being plastic this leaves quite a big footprint on our planet. One that will almost certainly outlast not just us, but also our great grandchildren.

Those toys manufactured by Fisher Price a slight 70 years ago will probably all have come to the end of their ‘intended’ life. So, where are they now?

It is likely that they are sat in a rubbish tip buried somewhere all alone, miles away from the grasp of their intended user.

Just take a moment and think about that….

90% of toys sold in the UK are plastic.

Plastic toy consumption – who is to blame?

There is no blame game here, other than perhaps consumerism. Some things we need, some things we don’t. When it comes to our children, their happiness often takes precedent and we tend to buy the plastic toy without giving a second thought to the environment.

Hand me downs

Nearly all of us have received, or given or helped with the recycle culture in some way. As good as getting the full life out of a product is, the reality with plastic toys is that many of them only have one use. Even if it is handed down (or across), that is still only a tiny portion of the lifespan of a plastic toy.

It takes 450 years on average for plastic to degrade. As it does, the pieces get smaller and the toxic chemicals leak into the environment meaning and in that time it goes through many bodies (yes you), animals and even plants – a hand me down of sorts.

Plastic is a wonder product!

Wait what…..

It is a product that can be used again and again, is waterproof, can be turned into so many different things, is easy to clean and is therefore is hygienic (although not so much for a certain animal teether). It permeates so much of our lives, that it would be impossible to stop using it. Plastic is clearly the sensible choice for a sippy cup amongst many other things.

So what are my alternative options?

We can hope that the plastic eating bacteria becomes commercially viable pretty quickly OR we can look at other options of plastic and reduce our dependency on them.

Option 1 – Stop using plastic

  • Wooden Toys – Well these are great and a favourite of ours, but they are just so expensive.
  • Metal toys – Other than Mechano metal doesn’t really suit the mould for a modern toy. It is hard, cold and just a bit brash without a lovely plastic paint coat.

Option 2 – Switch to better plastic

  • Recycled plastic
  • Bio degradable plastic or Bio-Plastic

 

Bio-plastic – the reason why we should keep using plastic

 

Bio-plastics currently come in two forms, plant based and petroleum based.

Petroleum based bio-plastic

Is processed by adding metals of cobalt, magnesium and nickel and sounds horrible (It’s not something we are keen on either) that sound like a lot of rare earth just to detoxify something that didn’t need to be created in the first place.

Plant based bio-plastic

Is made from a substance called PLA or Poly Lactic Acid. This is compostable in the right conditions, namely, a very specific heat. If sent to a commercial compost facility, it it will break up and turn into natural enzymes in about 3 months.

Throwing it out on your compost heap may mean it takes a lot longer and throwing it out in the rubbish may mean it won’t breakdown at all. but WOW, what a product.

Where can I find these bio-plastic toys?

It is not that easy but this is one area that is becoming much easier. A Large number of companies and corporations are spending millions on plant based plastic research. In the toy industry, LEGO who are renowned for their reliance on plastic parts are leading the way and have just started their roll out of plant based plastic bricks derived from sugar cane. Over time this is going to become standard, which, as slight LEGO enthusiasts,  we welcome with open arms.

Of course we couldn’t spend out time here and not mention our own rang of bio plastic toys from Bioserie.

 

 

In conclusion

Change is slow and just forcing people to stop using plastic isn’t likely to happen. At least not without great political interference. So by tackling this from both end, the companies changing their manufacturing and us becoming more aware of the alternatives we can lead to a more sustainable future.

We shouldn’t stop using plastic because to do that would be impossible – we should instead be aware of the type of plastic we use.


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