Safe, Green and Fair Holiday Gifts for Kids

Gifts.

Celebrating greener holidays can mean reducing the number of gifts you give, choosing instead to focus on relationships and the spiritual meaning attached to the holiday season. Still, many find great joy in sharing gifts with the children in their lives. Fortunately, there are many wonderful gift ideas guaranteed to bring a smile to a child’s face while supporting the giver’s commitment to a just and sustainable future at the same time. The following gift ideas are all from companies that are green, family-owned, or fair trade—or even all three!

 

Toys

Fair Indigo Stuffed Dog
Fair Indigo’s Stuffed Dog

From giraffes, to penguins to raccoons, Fair Indigo’s fair trade Stuffed Animals span the entire animal kingdom. Made by artisans in Peru. $25.90

Maple Landmark train
Maple Landmark Midget Railway Set

Maple Landmark’s Midget Railway box set includes six train cars and is made in the US from sustainably harvested pine. $41.00 Member of the Green Business Network

Upavim Craft’s Baby Cow Snuggle Blanket is fair trade and made of super soft fleece. It will surely delight any baby. $15.50

Global Mamas fair trade Kid’s Cape is perfect for games of pretend. The cape is gorgeously printed with magic stars and moons by artisan women in Ghana. $20.00

The Wooden Wilderness Animal set, available at Naturally Playful, is great for games of pretend and teaching kids about the outdoors. Made in the US. $26.00 Member of the Green Business Network

Fair Trade Winds’ Pixie Ring Rattle is an easy-to-hold crocheted baby rattle. Handmade in Bangladesh from soft cotton by rural women who work flexible hours from home. $16

bella luna wonderworld-little-tool-box-wooden-toys
Bella Luna Work Bench

Bella Luna’s Wooden Toy Work Bench will provide hours of fun for any junior carpenter. Made with sustainably harvested rubber wood and non-toxic dyes. $32.95 Member of the Green Business Network

The Wishbone 2-in-1 Balance Bike, available from Hazelnut Kids, is made from recycled materials. Rather than having to buy multiple bikes to introduce your child to cycling, this one well-made bike can be enjoyed for many years. 3-in-1 bikes also available. $199 Member of the Green Business Network

Pocket Discs are great for playing inside and out. All are fair trade with dozens of designs to choose from. $19.99 Member of the Green Business Network

Color by Nature color pencils are handmade and fair trade in Chile out of twigs. Available at Ten Thousand Villages. $18.00

One World Project’s Muchacho and Muchacha fair trade piggy banks teach kids to save. $30.

 

Haba Fantasy Blocks
Haba Fantasy Blocks

HABA’s Fantasy Blocks are ideal for creative play. Includes 26 non-toxic pieces, all made in Germany. $44.99

Build a Bouquet, from Green Toys, allows for any little gardener’s creativity to grow. All Green Toys products are made of 100% recycled materials in the US. $27.99.

Fair Trade finger puppets, from Finger Puppets Inc. offer numerous themes of finger puppets for creative play. $2.99 each.

Used Toys: Let’s face it—kids grow up too fast. Because if this, its often possible to find very gently used toys in yard sales, church sales, and on craigslist. Pleygo, a new service specializing in just Legos, makes it easy to buy used Lego sets.

Books

Global Babies includes full color portraits of babies from around the world.

Click, Clack, Moo – Cows That Type tells the story of farm animals who come together in a non-volient way and bargain collectively for better treatment. Available at Better World Books new and used.

Used Books: It’s very easy to find used books on sites like Better World Books. Choose some of your favorite books form when you were young to share with your favorite little people.

Clothing & Accessories

This festive fair trade “Hooty” bib from Upavim Crafts will have your littlest ones eating in style this holiday. $11.50

Monkey Backpack by Handcrafting Justice. This adorable, fair trade backpack is perfect for kids to carry to school or other activities. Made in Thailand, backpacks also come in elephant and owl! $28.00

Safe Sand Indoor and Outdoor sand, available in 25-pound bags, is ideal for sandbox play and molds when wet. Safe Sand is low-dust and non-toxic, with no asbestos, no lead, no crystalline silica dust. $25.00 Member of the Green Business Network

Global Mama’s fair trade sun hat is perfect from shielding new baby on sunny days. Made by artisans in Ghana. $20.00

This fair trade Felted Flower Purse is perfect for carrying any tiny person’s tiny things. Available at One World Fair Trade. $15

Final Considerations

Because so many baby products, like monitors and toys, require batteries to operate, consider a rechargeable battery set as a gift for mom and dad to reduce waste.

And lastly, no products can replace love and care. Any time you can spend playing with the kids in your life will be very well received. If you are looking for activities to do with a little person, consider picking up some art supplies to work with them on a craft project, or take them on a special outing like a nature walk or puppet show.

This post was made possible with the suggestions of many Green America members. Thanks to Carmen, Andrew, Paula, Denise, Alix, Kate, Jennifer, Leslie, Antonie and Jerry.

Find our 2014 Safe, Green Toys recommendations here. 

Finding eco-friendly clothing for back-to-school

Editorial intern Kara Turtinen explores how children’s clothes are made, and discovers what to look for, and what to avoid, when purchasing for back-to-school.

From her article in the latest Green American:

Items made from sustainable fibers are the safest and Earth-friendliest clothing for kids and adults. Here’s what to look for:

Organic cotton: Organic cotton is grown without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Be careful of cotton that is described as “undyed,” “untreated,” “natural,” or “green.” These labels are not regulated and are sometimes used to market conventional cotton. Also organic cotton may still be coated with toxic finishes.

Industrial hemp: Rapidly renewable industrial hemp produces three times more fabric per acre than cotton, and it requires little to no pesticides or herbicides.

Bamboo: Bamboo is a hardy plant that grows quickly and easily. However, toxic chemicals can be used to turn the plant into what is basically rayon. The US Federal Trade Commission mandates that companies using this process must label their products “rayon made from bamboo,” rather than just “bamboo.” Companies that use an eco-friendlier process may label their clothing as made from “bamboo.” Consumers should note that true bamboo fiber will not feel “silky smooth” like bamboo-based rayon.

Recycled polyester: Recycled polyester is made from recycled soda bottles, cast-off fabrics, and worn-out garments.

Wool: Wool is renewable, doesn’t need chemicals to grow, and is naturally fi reresistant. Animal rights activists, however, have expressed concern about “mulesing,” where farmers cut the folds around sheep genitalia. Farmers say mulesing helps prevent fatal blowfly infestations, but activists say the process is painful and ask shoppers to avoid new sheep wool items.

Read the whole thing »