School is now in full swing and so is the birthday-party circuit, which, given that we're trying to live greener these days, kind of stresses me out. It's all those birthday gifts. I have a hard time buying anything plastic—the material of choice for most kids' toys—knowing it will most likely end up in a landfill some day, not to mention the effect plastic production has on our environment. Wooden toys, too—unless they're made from sustainable wood with toxin-free finishes—add to the problem.
Luckily, there are some great recyclable and eco-friendly toys out there, like toy vehicles made from recycled plastic, cool puzzles made from sustainable hardwoods, non-toxic crayons, and formaldehyde-free easels.
My new favorite finds are recycled cardboard playhouses. I bought a bunch to give for birthday and Christmas gifts.The kids decorate the houses themselves, so it's a fun craft project in addition to a cute little house for dolls, stuffed animals, or even the kids themselves if it's one of the bigger models. And when they're done with it, you just toss it in the recycling bin.
We gave a fire-station version to a little boy recently—it elicited oohs and ahhs on the reveal: "Wow! That is so cool! What a great gift!" Next to all those nonrecyclable plastic Star Wars light sabers and figurines, it really did stand out as a great gift to parents and kids alike.
What do you like to give as birthday presents?