Updated: Jul 15, 2021
On 22nd April as the World celebrates the 51st annual Earth Day, here at Happy Cat Kids I want to do my little bit to support the cause too.
Now whilst I have the most incredible respect and admiration for those who campaign tirelessly to raise awareness of climate change or those living a zero waste or plastic-free lifestyle, I also know that this can sometimes feel intensely overwhelming. We can all too easily feel so confused and overwhelmed by the mammoth task that it can sometimes feel easier to bury our heads and do nothing or to feel that you just don't have the time or knowledge to constantly second-guess all your lifestyle and buying choices. Believe me, I have totally been there myself - I have definitely been someone who has thought: "I don't have time, I don't understand the implications of my choices so I'll leave it to someone who does", but in more recent years I have come round to the realisation that it doesn't matter if I don't fully understand how to make the very best choices for our environment in every moment, what matters is that I just do something!
So that is why I am asking you lovely supporters of Happy Cat Kids to join me this Earth Day in committing to just one small change.
Yes, it can be overwhelming to try and make all the right choices but just imagine, if everyone in the World changed just one thing for the better in terms of caring for our planet, what a difference that would make!
To get you started here are just a few examples of very small changes you could make:
Carry a re-usable water bottle with you to reduce your use of single-use plastic bottles
Plan your meals for the week to avoid too much food waste
Recycle as much of your household waste as you can
Switch to washable re-usable wipes for removing your make-up
Never leave the house without your shopping bags!
Check-out shampoo, conditioner, shower gel or deodorant bars (Lush do some fabulous ones!)
Consider buying pre-loved clothes
Switch to LED lightbulbs
Look for plastic alternatives when buying gifts
Wrap gifts in recyclable wrapping paper
Obviously, there are so many possibilities of things you can try, why not give one a go? So with that idea in mind, I wanted to share with you my top 5 eco-friendly toys available here at Happy Cat Kids. Maybe you will consider one of them as a replacement for a plastic toy? What's more, if you purchase your gift from me, I'll also gift-wrap it for free for you in fully-recyclable wrapping - win-win!!
So without further ado, here are my top 5 environmentally-friendly children's gifts:
Not only are these little soft toys super cute and safe from birth but they also make great environmentally-friendly choices if you're looking for a baby gift. Tikiri (the wonderful Sri Lankan family business who make these toys) greatly reduce their carbon footprint by producing all their toys locally, in fact, their toys are all made from natural rubber produced 100% from their own plantations which have a strong focus on responsible farming and re-forestation. Natural rubber is a wonderful plastic-free choice for babies toys as it is non toxic, BPA free, Phthalate free and PVC free. As natural rubber is made from plants it means that these toys are bio-degradable so much better for our environment than plastic!
If you want to make one change for the better in terms of your kids' toys then I highly recommend switching up a couple of plastic toys that you would have bought for wooden ones! Wooden toys are so much longer-lasting and better for the environment, plus, let's face it, they look a lot nicer on your shelves too!!
This wooden pots and pans set from Tenderleaf Toys is a wonderful, versatile toy that kids will love when playing restaurants, kitchens, cafes, take-aways and all number of lovely role-play games and here's what's great about this from an environmental perspective:
All Tenderleaf wooden toys are made solely from reclaimed rubberwood, a by-product of the latex industry
For every reclaimed tree it uses, Mentari, the Tenderleaf factory in Indonesia, plants a new one, driving ahead the cycle of regeneration
Tender Leaf also supports Eden Projects here in the UK, who are now recognised as one of the most effective re-forestation projects on the planet. For every order placed with them, they plant 10 trees.
All toys are packaged in 100% recycled card
I absolutely love these little vehicles from Viking Toys - from a distance, they may look like ordinary plastic toys but don't be fooled, these are in fact made 100% from sugar cane! One of the benefits of these vehicles is that they are super strong and durable avoiding the waste of a broken plastic toy being thrown out after a few plays! The sugar cane used to make this bio-plastic is 100% renewable - as the cane grows it binds more carbon dioxide than it emits during the extraction process. What's more, both the toys and the packaging are fully recyclable.
These RecycleMe kits make wonderful gifts! Not only do they keep the kids occupied with some crafting fun, they also use up some of your household waste! Each kit contains everything you need to create fun craft projects, all you need to add is simple household recycling objects such as toilet rolls, cardboard boxes, plastic bottles and milk cartons.
These Keeleco teddies are unbelievably soft, it is hard to believe that they are made 100% from recycled plastic bottles! But they really are - how cool is that!
These eco-friendly toys are manufactured and stuffed with 100% recycled polyester from plastic waste. What's more, traditional glass eyes have been replaced with cotton embroidered eyes and the Keel logo and hangtag are now formed from FSC card and attached to the toy with cotton, even the sew in label is recycled and all the toys are manufactured in an ICTI ethically audited factory! I also love that the entire Keeleco range is made up of endangered animals from all over the World, therefore also raising awareness of some beautiful animals who are at risk of extinction.
So, there you have it, my top 5 kids gifts for a more eco-friendly purchase. If you're interested in seeing more, we have a whole range of environmentally-friendly gifts which can be viewed here. This range includes items such as bamboo eating sets and tootbrushes, lunch bags made from recycled materials and of course a fab selection of wooden toys.
One final thought...
As you may be aware, here at Happy Cat Kids we have our own range of teething jewellery and accessories: Halia Rose. All the Halia Rose items are made from food-grade silicone so you may be wondering - is silicone an eco-friendly choice? The answer to this is unfortunately not a simple yes or no and probably requires an entire blog post of his own to cover this question properly, but I'll attempt to sum it up for you here!
The main difference between silicone and plastic is that most plastic is made from crude oil which is a non-renewable resource. Silicone is made from the natural product silica which is found in sand. Silica is much more abundant although obviously not totally unlimited. In order to make silicone, the silica has to be passed through hydrocarbons, so whilst the silica comes from sand - a plentiful resource, the hydrocarbons mostly come from non-renewable sources such as oil and natural gas. Therefore, the extraction process is more environmentally friendly that of plastic but is not fully renewable or biodegradable.
The main benefit of silicone over plastic is a health one. Food-grade silicone, unlike plastic, does not allow any toxins to leach into it's material making it an ideal choice for teething products due the absence of harmful chemicals and the durability of the material.
Silicone can be recycled but has to go to a specialist facility therefore most products will end-up being thrown away at the end of their life (although their useful life is a lot longer than that of plastic!) As they will not easily degrade they could fill up landfill although they are believed to be less dangerous to marine life because there is no risk of harmful plastic pieces being ingested.
In short, I believe that silicone is evidently better for the environment than plastic but not a 100% eco-conscious choice. However, this needs to be weighed up against the safety and durability benefits of silicone. As our Halia Rose products are designed for babies this ultimately out-weighed our choice of material.
So this Earth Day, I hope you will think about making one small change and when you are next purchasing a children's gift please consider one of these more eco-friendly choices.