Eco-friendly gifts for your kids that won’t break the bank

  • 12/12/2020 2:59 pm ET Mary Siobhan


Now that the holiday season is upon us, so too is hunting for the perfect gifts for family members of all ages. If sustainability is on your mind, it can be tricky to find children’s toys that tick all the boxes, especially given how many are made of cheap plastics or other environmentally-harmful materials.

Fortunately, you aren’t alone in your search for environmentally conscious goods, and there are plenty of eco-friendly toy options out there. Many of them are more affordable than you might think.

Teach your children from a young age the importance of caring for mother earth. After all, more than 99% of climate scientists agree that the planet is warming and humans are the cause.

With these gifts, your kids will learn that you can be eco-friendly and have fun at the same time. Of course, the best gift we can give our children is a livable climate — by demanding from our political leaders, common-sense solutions to carbon pollution.

Educational and fun children’s books

A stack of books

Unsplash / Sharon McCutcheon

Reading together means:

  • Intimate quality time with your children
  • Teaching the values that your child will need as she or he grows
  • Development for your child’s brain
  • Fostering curiosity
  • Practicing imagination
  • Learning and enjoyment

Science Moms offers reading lists for both moms and kids based on environmental topics. Check out their resources page for great book recommendations to foster age-appropriate conversations about climate change.

Our children will be the ones to inherit whatever extreme climate impacts our leaders don’t prevent with clean energy solutions. With a book catered to them, you can not only set aside time to bond with them and read together, but you can also give them the tools they need to understand and deal with climate change from childhood into adulthood.

Start a fruitful conversation with your child. Teach the science and the research, then ask them what they thought of the story, what they learned, and what they think they can do to help. You may be surprised by the wisdom that comes from their little mouths.

Wooden toys


Wooden toys have seemingly fallen out of style over the past several decades, mostly due to the introduction of plastics into the world of toy making. Though they might be a little harder to come by, wooden toys actually offer a lot of benefits aside from being more sustainable.

For one thing, wooden toys are far more likely to be durable than plastic ones. They are less likely to break. They’re also great if you’re looking for a toy that can be passed down from child to child.

Plastic takes 1,000 years to decompose. With a wooden toy, your kids can have just as much fun, without contributing to the abundance of plastic waste that fills our rivers, oceans, and lands every year.

Here are some ideas to get your search started:

  • Wooden puzzles or puzzle games
  • Wooden cars, trucks, etc.
  • Wooden blocks — these can come in just about every shape and size under the sun!
  • Wooden train set
  • Wooden musical instruments
  • Dollhouses or dollhouse furniture made from wood

Recycled plastic toys

Cartoon rendering of earth


Maybe there is something made of plastic that your child really wants for Christmas. You can show them through the toys they are gifted that being eco-friendly doesn’t have to be boring. Leading a life with little waste and a small ecological footprint does not necessarily require sacrifice, just change. One of the changes you make this year could be recycled plastic toys.

These toys can take basically any shape traditional plastic toys might — dolls, trucks, cars, blocks — but are made from recycled material.

Green Toys is a great brand to check out if you’re interested. They offer toys of all sorts made entirely from recycled milk jugs!

Organic stuffed animals


This year, you can feel good about supporting businesses that prioritize sustainability. Send your money to a small business with good morals instead of major corporations that see environmentalism as nothing more than a footnote or a marketing scheme.

Plus, toys made from organic materials (materials that must meet a strict set of guidelines to be considered organic) are high-quality, free of any irritating or harmful chemicals, and made to last. That means they are not only better for the environment, but they are better for the health of your baby.

Bears for Humanity makes wonderful organic, hand-stuffed, and high-quality plush animals for a reasonable price. Feel good about how you spend your money, and good about your child’s health needs.

Homemade toys


If you’re willing to get a little creative, homemade toys can be memorable and unique for both you and your baby. Years from now, the gifts you remember will be the ones you dedicated time and effort into making. An added benefit is that they take things that you would otherwise throw away, and turn them into something magical.

Your baby learns from example. You can be a special role model for your child when you show them how to dedicate time to the ones you love with thoughtful gifts that you made by hand.

You can make toys out of all sorts of materials you have around the house, like fabrics, yarn, craft supplies (think pom-poms and pipe cleaners), and even pre-existing toys or activities. You could even take the time to craft together. It’s a safe, indoor activity that can mean shared time and a gift that your child will really enjoy. Get some ideas here.

The gifts of shared time, focus, and attention are the most irreplaceable things you could give to your child and, coincidentally, exactly what our earth needs right now. With any of these thoughtful gifts, you can bring your child joy, wonder, and knowledge, while also showing them how to be an admirable citizen of the earth.

You aren’t going to shop climate change away!


You know that no amount of eco-shopping will change the fact that climate change is real and time to do something about it is running out. This is because it isn’t the job of individuals to fix it! It is true that every little bit helps, but the real work needs to be done at the government level.

⇒ Click here to send a letter to your Senators and Representative RIGHT NOW!⇐

Science Moms wants to arm you with the tools you need to hold your elected officials accountable. It starts with conversations with your kids, your family, and your friends — but it also takes action. Tell your leaders that you are doing your part by being eco-conscious. It is time they do theirs.

This article was produced and distributed in partnership with Potential Energy Coalition in support of the Science Moms.

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