When was the last time you succeeded in buying five inexpensive gifts for children that were plastic free? There are not many choices — especially the highly advertised and commercial options, as evidenced by the aisle upon aisle of toys in my local chain department store.
Plastic’s pervasiveness in holiday items is no gift to the planet. A recent report from The Courier out of Great Britain stated that about 8 million tons of plastic annually ends up in the ocean. The main cause is poor waste disposal options from rapidly developing countries, according to a 2015 University of California, Santa Barbara study. the slowing of the recycling industry and single use plastic waste. In the United States, less that 10% of plastics are recycled.
I’ve reported earlier studies that show plastics are now in the fish that we eat, and reports continue to show clear evidence of microplastics in shellfish, and even in “samples of crustaceans found in the ultra-deep trenches that span the entire Pacific Ocean – the Mariana, Japan, Izu-Bonin, Peru-Chile, New Hebrides and Kermadec trenches,” as reported in a recent issue in The Guardian. Visit neptune911.com to learn more about these frightful realities of the world’s most convenient products.
So my mission on Monday was to find Christmas gifts for a local Toys for Tots campaign— and gifts that do not include plastics. This immediately eliminated the ever popular Lego products, most dolls, many craft kits, action figures and sports items.
I lean toward educational toys and toys that spark the imagination. Sadly, the plastic made dinosaurs, jungle animals, including a package that showcased endangered species, missed the mark.
It took a while but I came home with:
*A leather football
*Wooden pull toy
*Coloring book with pencils
*A diary and metal pen
*Jenga — wooden game
I wanted to get a science kit, but the packaging was plastic packed in more plastic.
My choices wound up being basic toys, or old-fashioned, if you will. But they have the bonus gift of creative, physical, and cognitive benefits without the worrisome impacts of plastics in our environment — a lasting gift.