Saturday, April 3, 2010

Junk Toys

"Like junk food, junk toys can be fun but are devoid of nutrition. Buying them requires little forethought. They are excessively commercial, and are often linked to cross-marketing schemes. They excite children at first, but that initial flicker doesn’t endure. Also like junk food, junk toys have hidden environmental and social costs for which the consumers pay." - Judith Rubin
 It's hard to imagine that ubiquitous and innocent gifts as plastic toys or stuffed animals made from synthetic materials could have such a negative impact on a child, a family, and their world. It's even harder to raise a healthy child when society wants you to raise a good consumer. The toys that we provide children have a part to play in that. Plastic toys give off chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system, do not degrade in landfills, are petroleum by-products, are often made in sweatshops, are often made in China, use excessive resources to make and transport, do not last more than one generation, and many are overly commercial. Life Magazine reports, "Except for the small amount that has been incinerated — and it’s a very small amount — every bit of plastic made still exists." YUCK! This isn't the world we want to leave Anjali and her friends.
How can you tell a junk toy from a good toy? Here are some great questions to ask yourself when selecting toys:
  1. Will this toy eventually turn into dirt-i.e., could I compost it? 
  2. Do I know who made this toy? 
  3. Is this toy beautiful? Have human hands bestowed an awkward grace, a uniqueness lacking in toys cranked out effortlessly by machine?
  4. Will this toy capture a child’s imagination?
 Where to find these toys? Well, they are everywhere if you know what to look for. And there are lots of websites devoted to beautiful toys:

(dolls from AsherJasper on

Some things that we liked can be found on Anjali's Wishlist at There are such beautiful crafts out there and the artists are worthy of support. It's much nicer to have one good toy then twenty junk ones.


r. seligman said...

The little felt egg people are adorable. I checked out the AsherJasper etsy store, but it looks like they are taking a little break. Hopefully they'll be back soon.

Thanks for including links to the different sites. You know this is a topic I feel strongly about as well.

Radha Gopinath das said...

Oh what a maze we must meander through
Just to get to the secret garden
That lives in the heart of every child
Every step is treacherous
But the goal is priceless
Let's go there together
With Love

Madhavi said...

What a beautiful poem, Radha! Rachel - I LOVE the felt egg people. I can't wait until she comes back from vacation. They are too cute!

Julie said...

We'd love to buy a toy for Anjali from one of the companies you mentioned. Since I'm not sure what you already have, I went to Amazon and typed in Anjali's Wish List but couldn't get a match. Any suggestions for how I can get on to the site or suggestions for what you'd love Anjali to have right now.