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10 of the best sustainable, eco-friendly and ethical toys

Looking for a toy for your baby, toddler and pre-schooler that's a bit less plastic and a bit more kind to the environment? Here's our round-up of the top ethical, sustainable, eco-friendly – and fun – toys

best eco toys for kids

More and more of us are looking for toys that have been manufactured and packaged in ways that have as little impact as possible on our environment – but are also fun to play with. And that can be hard when your child is right in the middle of toddlerhood and every toy on the shelves seems to be plastic, wrapped in plastic.

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We’ve had a good look – and play – with some of the more eco-friendly toddler toys around – and we’ve found some real keepers, from stacking cubes to shape sorters, and from chirpy, counter sparrows to pull along elephants.

Here’s our pick of the best sustainable, ethically-produced or eco-friendly toys for babies, toddlers and preschoolers…

1. Petit Collage Alphabet Wooden Tray Puzzle, £19.95


Age: 3+

What it is: An alphabet wooden tray (30cm x 20cm) with 26 letter puzzle pieces, made from sustainable wood and printed with vegetable inks. Comes with learning sheets with icons corresponding to the letters in English, French, Italian and German.

Why we love it: It’s a lovely, colourful puzzle that requires some fine-motor control and hand-eye coordination, as well as concentration. The learning sheets are cute and well designed, although attempting anything other than the English alphabet is probably your average (non-multi-lingual) preschooler can manage.

Available from: Amazon and Wild & Wolf

2. Toy Box Club, from £35 a month

Age: From birth to 4

What it is: A monthly subscription box with a difference: you get an age-appropriate, gender-neutral, fun and educational selection of toys delivered to your house and then it’s collected and exchanged for another box the following month. All toys are cleaned thoroughly between deliveries and, if there is a particular toy your child won’t part with, you can make arrangements to buy it.

Why we love it: This is perfect for parents who want a guilt-free alternative to the ever-growing mountain of plastic toys filling up their home. And a new box of toys every month means the kids should never get bored (no promises, mind!). From what we’ve seen in our testing, the variety of toys – and books – is good and excellently age-appropriate.

Available from: Toy Box Club

3. Cuddle+Kind Violet the Fawn, from £52

Age: From birth

What it is: A 100% handcrafted cotton yarn doll (choose from 33cm or 50cm high), with felt details and stuffed with hypoallergenic polyester filling. For each doll bought, 10 meals will be donated to children in need. Made in Peru by women artisans, providing them with a sustainable, Fairtrade income.

Why we love it: The dolls are beautiful, so well-made – and the perfect size for a doll’s pram. They’re really soft and cuddly, with such a wonderful message and mission behind it all. They are mightily expensive but if your wallet can stretch to it, and you like the idea of a toy with a cause,  this could well be one of those favourite soft toys that are passed down through the generations.

Available from: Cuddle+Kind

4. Le Toy Van Stacking Veggies, £19.95


Age: 18 months+

What it is: A set of roughly 15cm-high wooden veggies with hand-sewn felt leaves that come apart so you can stack and match and fit them into 3 wooden pots. Made from durable, sustainable rubberwood. Decorated with non-toxic paints.

Why we love it: The little carrot, radish and beetroot are light, cute, well made and really sturdy. A nice simple stacking and sorting toy for a toddler.

Available from: Le Toy Van and Kidly

5. Beloved Boards Mini Bear, €120.00


Age: 6 months+

What it is: A 64cm x 60cm wooden busy board, made from ecologically clean raw materials, with lots of play options including a rotating circle that reveals numbers, gears, buttons to push, wooden beads, an opening door, spinning figures, laces, rattles and much more.

Why we love it: It’s a really good-quality toy that your child will find engaging to play with from baby to toddlerhood– and beyond. Which makes the high price more justifiable than you’d think at first. All of our child testers were entranced – and found plenty to keep their little fingers (and brains) busy.

Available from: Beloved Boards

6. Green Toys Recycled Toy Rocket, £23.99

Age: 2+

What it is: A 29cm-high rocked made of 100% recycled plastic, with a detachable top and flip-down door. Comes with 2 astronauts. Made from safe, non-toxic materials, with zero BPA, PVC or phthalates.

Why we love it: It’s solid, smooth, well-made and nicely detailed – and it’s light enough to be swept up and swooped around on space flights round the living room. The little astronauts are very cute in their helmets and backpacks. The flip-down door can become a bit hard to close after a lot of energetic playing, though.

Available from:  Amazon and Green Nippers

7. Green Toys My First Shape Sorter, £16.49

Age: 6 months+

What it is: A 20cm x 13cm x 20cm flying-saucer-shaped shape sorter with 8 brightly coloured pieces (2 stars, 2 circles, 2 squares and 2 triangles) to slot inside. Made from 100% recycled milk cartons, BPA, phthalate and PVC-free, and printed with soy inks.

Why we love it: It’s a good, grabbable size but still amazingly lightweight. We like how you just twist the sorter’s 2 sections apart to retrieve the pieces. And, if it gets grubby, you can just pop it in the dishwasher.

Available from: Green Toys, Amazon and Ethical Superstore

8. Lanka Kade Double Decker Bus, £6

Age: 10 months+

What it is: A 9.6cm-high rubberwood bus with working wheels and a driver and passengers painted (in non-toxic paint) on both sides. It’s Fairtrade, and handcrafted in Sri Lanka from sustainably sourced rubberwood.

Why we love it: It’s lovely and chunky (2.5cm thick) and the wheels run very smoothly. We like the nicely diverse bus passengers. Great value for money.

Available from:Lanka Kade and Babipur

9. Bajo Sparrow Abacus, £20

Age: 2+

What it is: A 25cm x 12cm x 9cm wooden-framed abacus with 5 brightly coloured sparrows on the top row and 5 brightly coloured beads on the bottom row. Made in Poland by a company committed to sustainable toy products, using locally sourced materials and non-toxic paints.

Why we love it: It’s super-sturdy – and a fun (non-plastic) way to start teaching colours and numbers. Although, it has to be said, our child testers had the most fun just spinning the colourful wooden sparrows round!

Available from: BabiPurNaturally Ethical and Proper Toys

10. From Babies with Love Nautical Nesting Cubes, £25

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A set of 6 differently-sized hollow wooden cubes, each decorated with colours, numbers and shapes on a jaunty nautical theme. Made from sustainably sourced wood and sold by a charity that donates 100% of its profits to orphaned and abandoned children around the world.

Why we love it: These beautifully decorated cubes can be stacked up (and knocked down) or nested together (to be pulled apart). We really like that they come in a 100% recycled and recyclable box.

Available from: From Babies with Love, Ethical Superstore and Not On the High Street

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