12 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 kinder to the environment? Dolls, games, cars and puppies: here's a round-up of fun ethical, sustainable and eco-friendly toys

best-sustainable-toy_214078

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.

Advertisement

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…

1. Toy Box Club, from £30 a month

best-sustainable-toy_214079

GOLD winner, Best Sustainable/Eco Toy, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

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!)

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘Joseph loved the helicopter, the books and the puzzles he got – and his older sister was taken with the blocks and wooden counter. They happily played together for ages, exploring everything. Having different toys every month is a great idea – without constantly piling up new ones to keep them interested.’ Julie, mum to Joseph, 2
  • ‘Noah loved opening his box and there was a great variety of good, age-appropriate of toys and books inside. A fair price for this much, I think’.’ Annie, mum to Noah, 3

Available at: Toy Box Club

2. Meegos, £12.99 each

best-sustainable-toy_214080

SILVER winner, Best Sustainable/Eco Toy, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: From birth

What it is: These collectible 10cm crochet plush dogs are Fair Trade and handmade in Bangladesh by a worker’s co-operative that provides fairly paid, good-quality, flexible local employment. There are 6 Meegos to collect (each one comes with 2 pups) and 3 limited-edition families – and they come in a cute cardboard kennel.

Why we love it: These handmade pooches are adorable-looking (and handily machine-washable) and the cardboard kennels are cute. This first series of Meegos has helped create jobs for 4,025 women in Bangladesh, so every purchase really does have a positive impact.

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘I love my Meegos. They are soft and I can cuddle them. The box is their house and they sleep in there. The baby doggies are my favourite. I like the family as they are best friends. My dollies like to have pets, now we have pets. I would like some more Meegos so they can live in my castle.’ Annabelle, 4
  • ‘They’re cute. Great that they’re machine-washable (the ones we had were white – so that’s essential!), and FairTrade.’ Lara, mum to Freida, 5 

Available at: Amazon

3. Petit Collage Safari Wooden Puzzle + Play, £28

best-sustainable-toy_214081

BRONZE winner, Best Sustainable/Eco Toy, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 18 months +

What it is: A set of 9 very friendly looking hand-etched chunky animal characters made of FSC-certified beech wood and presented as a jigsaw. The packaging is made from recycled paper printed with vegetable inks, so there is no plastic waste whatsoever.

Why we love it: This set is so beautifully made, it will be passed down for generations. And there are so many ways you can play with it: stacking, role play, puzzle. Lovely design

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘Ivy loves stacking them and naming the animals. This toy would make a stylish decoration for a nursery before a child is old enough to play with it – a great, long-lasting baby gift.’ Sarah, mum to Ivy, 2
  • ‘A lovely natural toy. Maggie plays with the animals for a long time.’ Sophie, mum to Maggie, 2

Available at: Kidly

4. Cuddle+kind dolls, from £46 each

Cuddle+Kind unicorn

Age: From birth

What it is: Large (50cm) ethically produced, heirloom-quality dolls, hand-knitted in Peru. Choose from 24 characters, including mermaids, unicorns and rabbits.

Why we love it: These dolls are pricey but they’re exquisitely made – and each has its own birthday and a little biography. For every doll sold, cuddle+kind give 10 meals to children in need around the world (they’ve so far donated over 4,245,707 meals).

Available at: Cuddle + Kind

5. Green Toys Double-Decker Car Carrier, £23.99

Double decker car transporter

Age: 3+

What it is: A bright and chunky, slightly retro-style 30cm car transporter that comes with 2 slide-out ramps, a detachable trailer and 3 mini cars.

Why we love it: As with all Green Toys, it’s made from 100% recycled plastic that is BPA-free, phthalate-free and PVC-free. You can also run it through the dishwasher

Available at: Yesbebe and Amazon

6. Plan Toys Balancing Cactus, £8

Blending cactus toy

Age: 3 +

What it is: A mini balancing game with cactus stem and 12 pull-out branches. The idea is to build (or take apart) the cactus without making it fall. For 1 or more players. Comes in a tin with instructions

Why we love it: It’s made from natural rubber wood from trees that no longer produce latex and painted with water-based dyes. And it’s particularly beautiful to look at and handle.

Available at: Green Tulip

7. Green Toys My First Shape Sorter, £16.49

Green toys shape sorter

Age: 6 months +

What it is: A 20cm x 13cm x 20cm shape sorter with 8 brightly coloured pieces (2 stars, 2 circles, 2 squares and 2 triangles). The sorter’s two sections simply twist apart when you want to retrieve the pieces that have been popped inside.

Why we love it: It’s made from 100% recycled milk cartons, is BPA-, phthalate- and PVC-free, and is printed with soy inks. It’s a good, grab-able size but still amazingly lightweight. And, if gets grubby, you can just pop it in the dishwasher.

Available at: Green Toys, Amazon and Ethical Superstore

8. Lanka Kade Double Decker Bus, £6

Lanka kade double decker bus

Age: 10 months +

What it is: A 9.6cm x 14.6cm x 5.8cm rubberwood bus with smooth working wheels and a driver and passengers painted (in non-toxic paint) on both sides.

Why we love it: It’s Fair Trade and handcrafted in Sri Lanka from sustainably sourced rubber wood. It’s lovely chunky 2.5cm thick.

Available at: Lanka Kade and Babipur

9. Petit Collage Wooden Pull Toy Jumping Jumbo Elephant, £20

pull along jumbo jumping elephant

Age: 18 months +

What it is: A beautifully designed 2.5cm x 2.5cm x 2.5cm wooden elephant who bobs up and down and sways her ears as you pull her along.

Why we love it: This plastic and BPA-free bobbing Nellie is made of FSC-certified wood (meaning the wood comes from forests that are managed responsibly) and painted (gorgeously) in non-toxic paints. The pull along cord is natural cotton cord – although some of our child testers would have liked it to be a little bit longer.

Available at: Kidly, Amazon and The Ethical Superstore

10. Bajo Sparrow Abacus, £20

bajo sparrow abacus

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.

Why we love it: Made in Poland by a company committed to sustainable toy products, using locally sourced materials and non-toxic paints. It’s lovely and sturdy – and a fun (non-plastic) way to start teaching colours and numbers.

Available at: BabiPur

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

nautical nesting cubes

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. They can be stacked up (and knocked down) or nested together (to be pulled apart).

Why we love it: These beautifully decorated, nicely stacking cubes are made from sustainably sourced wood and come in a 100% recycled and recyclable box. Best of all, Babies With Love is a charity that donates 100% of its profits to orphaned and abandoned children around the world.

Available at: From Babies with Love and House of Kind

12. Plan Toys Oval Xylophone, £20.99

plan toys oval xylophone

Age: 2 +

What it is: A 5-panel 18cm x 28cm x 7 cm wooden xylophone with pleasing curved sides and a little wooden mallet.

Why we love it: It’s made with non-toxic rubber wood and non-formaldehyde glue and painted with water-based dyes. The notes your toddler will bash out are more plinkety-plink that perfect-pitch timpani – but that’s probably a blessing for all ears concerned.

Available at: Natural Babyshower and Amazon

Advertisement

We’ve got more award-winning toys here…

Comments ()

Please read our Chat guidelines.