One way to teach your child to be environmentally friendly is through their toys. Toys make up almost half of a kid’s belongings. Aside from keeping them busy, toys help develop children’s sensory skills and brain functions. By buying green toys for your kids, you teach them a lesson in consumer choice and environmental responsibility.

A trip to the toy store might render you suffocating from plastic, if there is such a thing. Popular toys are mostly made of plastic. Your child’s room is probably filled with them. Playthings end up in storage or in the garbage bin after your child outgrows them. This is one of the reasons why you should go green with your kids’ toys.

There are recalls here and there of certain products to ensure the safety of consumers. Recalls are done generally because of a product’s poor quality or hazardous ingredient. How many times have you heard of lead or mercury in kids’ toys? Nobody wants their child to ingest anything dangerous, especially coming from their playthings.

As a parent, you’d want your child to have the best of everything. Why not give the next generation the gift of a better environment? Here are some tips on how to make your kid’s toy bin more eco-friendly:

1. Go for good ole’ wood. Wooden materials make better toys because of their simplicity. Wooden building blocks for example will stir a child’s creativity and imagination better than pimped out plastic toys.

Choose wooden toys that are polished, glued or painted with non-toxic materials. Better yet, go for the unpolished ones so you don’t have to worry about your child ingesting any harmful chemical. Toys made with wood harvested from sustainable forests may have the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo on them, so be sure to check for that.

2. Buy organic. Organic products are not just found in the grocery. Nowadays, more and more manufacturers switch to organically grown materials for their products. This includes textile used for soft toys.

3. Following fads. Toy fads are exciting and may get you buying at an impulse. Be sure to evaluate a new toy first before giving in. There’s a good side to toy fads though – green toys! A quick online search will yield toy companies specifically making eco-friendly playthings. They are usually made with recycled or organic materials.

4. Look for recyclability. Recycling is the best way to lessen landfill. When choosing toys, look for recycled materials used in making the toy (usually indicated on the label) and its packaging, like boxes. The less packing materials used the better.

Also consider future recyclability. Some plastics are recyclable, but metals like aluminum and glass are easier to recycle.

5. Beat batteries. Avoid toys that need batteries. They may leak toxic chemicals during play and become an environmental waste when their life runs out. Not all moving toys need batteries, there are wind-up varieties.

Some toys are no fun if they are not battery-operated. To compromise, use rechargeable batteries instead of disposables. Video games and other electronics already come with their own rechargeable battery packs.

6. Decide on your dollar. A broken toy equals trash. Invest in good quality toys because they will last longer than cheap ones. Good quality plastic toys can be passed on to the next child or sold as a second-hand toy.

Buying, selling or swapping used toys is as good as recycling. There are a lot of good places to buy and sell used items in good condition. Swap meets can be arranged with the parents in your area where you can exchange toys, books and educational videos.

7. Consider carbon footprint. To make it simple, the farther the product was manufactured from, the more contribution it makes in carbon emissions. Transportation is one of the major fossil fuel burners, so by buying imported goods, you are partly contributing to pollution.

It’s not just about the products you buy. Buying alone, leaves more carbon footprint (from the hot water shower you take before going out, the gas you use to get to the store, to the receipt printed out for your purchase, and so on) than not buying at all. Encourage your child to do physical play outdoors like running and exploring.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to make your child’s life greener. The environment is saved little by little with the choices you make every day.