Somewhere on most children's wish list you'll find items from big-name companies. Unfortunately, four supply factories churning out toys for.
Somewhere on most children’s wish list you’ll find items from big-name companies. Unfortunately, four supply factories churning out toys for many of the top brands in the toy biz, including Mattel, Fisher-Price, Hasbro and Crayola, are on China Labour Watch’s list of labour rights violators. Grievances include employees being forced to work more than 100 hours of overtime a month (well over China’s legal limit of 36 hours), chemical exposure and the dumping of industrial waste. Barbie, Mickey, Transformers and Thomas & Friends are all fingered in the report, as are toys and games by Spin Master, Kid Galaxy and Kids II.
This company makes pretty awesome solar DIY tech gifts, including this kit, which won Best Green Toy of 2014. Vibrant young minds can learn to how to transform plastic bottles and aluminum cans into a solar-powered walking robot, a bottle yacht, a CD drag-racer, a flying bird – and the list goes on. It’s made in Taiwan, and the included parts aren’t recycled, but it’s still a great green gift for kids 10 and up. $19.95 at owirobot.com.
Check out these cool frontline hero dolls from enviro org World Wildlife Fund. You can choose between a 12-inch wildlife ranger, marine biologist or polar researcher and pick out an accompanying stuffed endangered animal of choice, with adoption certificate and info card. Made in China of conventional fossil-fuel-based polyester (sadly, there’s no recycled content), but it’s OEKO-Tex certified so it’s free of harmful chems, and the factory is audited by impacttlimited.com. WWF also sells 1,000-piece puzzles for older kids. Proceeds go to WWF. $70 from shop.wwf.ca.
If you don’t recognize Cascades as a toy company, that’s because it isn’t. The Quebec firm makes toilet paper and other mostly recycled tissue products. But at boutique.cascades.com you’ll discover it also makes 100 per cent recycled cardboard 3-D Christmas trees (up to 6 feet tall!), wrapping paper and children’s play furniture like this Canadian-made, entirely recycled playhouse just waiting to be decorated. I think I’ll buy one for my niece just so I can colour it myself. On sale for only $20.
Toronto-based Cate and Levi are famous for selling pre-made upcycled puppets, and now they’re teaching kids (seven and up) how to make their own. Each kit comes with reclaimed wool, sewing needle and thread, a pattern, eyes… and zero waste! It’s creative, locally made, non-toxic and totally eco-friendly in every sense of the word. $20 at cateandlevi.com.