The next time you head to your local toy store, take a look around and have a good think about what you see. The shelves are stacked with endless amounts of tat – much of which is just cheap, plastic trash. Toys aren’t the only problem, either. Plastic bottles of water, unnecessary packaging, throwaway plastic cups, and plates – the list of wasteful products we all buy is a long one.
It’s a sad state of affairs, for many different reasons. And I’m not sure I am the only one to start thinking us parents should be saying ‘enough is enough’ with the plastic.
With this in mind, I’ve put together a few good reasons why we should all be buying fewer plastic toys – or plastic anything, in fact. Read on to find out more – and feel free to comment or make a suggestion in the comments section after the post.
The amount of plastic that ends up in landfill and the sea is shameful. There could be up to 5,000,000 square miles of the stuff in what is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – and that’s just one area, in one ocean. Who knows what the actual total is worldwide? And it’s having an enormous impact. The plastic breaks up, small piece by small piece, and ends up floating ashore or, worse, being eaten by sea life and birds. In short, plastic is behaving a little like arterial plaque in the body – it’s blocking up nature, and we must be getting pretty close to a heart attack level event right now.
Plastic toys can harbor viruses such as influenza for many hours – up to 24 hours on a toy in an environment of 60 percent humidity. That’s a pretty alarming statistic and one that should get you thinking before sending your kids off to daycare or a play date. Don’t forget, kids love to put things in their mouths, but it’s a major issue because their immune systems haven’t developed properly. If you want to reduce the spread of illness in your household, it might be a good idea to either a) disinfect all your plastic toys on a daily basis, or b) get rid of them and never buy them again.
They don’t mean anything
Plastic trash is created en masse for next to nothing, yet still can be incredibly expensive. But ultimately, what do they mean? Sure, plastic toys might resemble your child’s favorite movie character, animal, or vehicle. And all those cheap but funny gifts you buy your partner might give you an hour or two of entertainment. But ultimately they are just a lump of cheap, nasty, molded plastic. Adults will get much more longevity from something like wooden puzzles from Stave, for example, and buying kids handcrafted toys gives them something a lot more unique and thoughtful. Be honest, if the cheap, plastic garden chairs you bought last summer broke tomorrow, would you really be disappointed or upset? The likelihood is you wouldn’t give it a moment’s thought as you packed it in your car to throw away at your local garbage depot.
They restrict creativity
Plastic toys are vastly overrated. Most parents will already know that their younger kids often play with the box and packaging a lot more than the toy itself. There’s a good reason for it, too – boxes can be anything when you have an imagination. And encouraging your kids to use their imagination rather than relying on already-named toys can help them in many different ways. It fosters creativity, and helps them develop better social skills. There is an extra bonus for parents, too: fewer toys in the home means fewer fights over them! Saying no to plastic also gives parents a chance to be creative. Perhaps you will make your kids presents instead of buying them, for example. Or maybe you will encourage your employers to invest in a water fountain instead of buying bottled water to work every day.
You don’t know where it comes from
Finally, you can bet that any company trying to save money by using cheap plastics for their products is also trying to save money in a multitude of other ways. And at this point, we are starting to get into dodgy territory. The chances are that the plastic trash you are buying is being put together in some distant, faraway place where worker’s rights are virtually unheard of. Sweatshops, child labor, horrendous working conditions – would it be much of a surprise to discover that your plastic products came from a factory like this? And, ultimately, it’s a deeply unpleasant thought that the plastic toys your child is playing with right now might have been assembled by a foreign child of similar age.
What are your thoughts on plastic products? Let me know and share your opinions in the comments section below!