Friday, November 28th, 2008
What’s with all the plastic toys?
A Thinga-reader correctly observed today that there’s plenty of plastic in the Thingamababy toy gift guides (linked below). I thought I’d pull this out for separate discussion.
While I’d love to own only wood and fabric toys, the reality is they often cost a fortune to buy even if they don’t cost a fortune to manufacture. That’s why I say it’s not a “posh” guide like is found on most blogs.
As pundits debate whether America is headed for a recession or a depression, the cost of toys remains a big issue, whether we’re feeling it yet or not. That’s why I refer to my guides as a “reality” list because when I read posh gift suggestions, I wonder what planet of unlimited wealth the bloggers live upon.
My guides are also only filled with practical toys, categories of toys so plain that you probably already own something like each one and so ordinary I don’t normally bother reviewing them. If you already have a lot of these toys, you’re doing okay and I’d be tickled if you buy almost no toys for the holidays. Find a good cardboard box, and splurge on a posh toy or two.
Perhaps that’s why I often write about non-plastic toys… they’re not bread and butter basics, but things I’ll spend more cash on because I have an special attachment or interest in them, such as my ongoing conversion from plastic to wooden and fabric kitchen food.
Sometimes plastic is the only option. You couldn’t, for example, make a spin top, like the one in our guide, out of metal. Real metal ones spin the outside of the toy. This one spins the inside through a clear (not glass!) plastic viewing window, making it safer at a younger age when, frankly, it’s enjoyed more. An older kid isn’t entertained by a metal spinner for long.
Meanwhile, something like the Shape-O shape sorter doesn’t have BPA, but if it did, my personal concern would be lower because it’s not a pacifier, sippy or something else designed for mouth use. Also, falling hazards are a concern, and a wooden box is worse than a plastic ball.
And my concern for phthalates is focused on bendable plastics, like, say, a plastic shower curtain (that when it ages sends bad stuff into the air) or anything intended for the mouth. I’ve always been puzzled why parents focus on BPA-free and phthalate-free “good plastic” sippies and eating utensils when they could just buy glass and stainless steel that will last and be used for decades.
Heck, even when parents buy glass baby bottles, they flock to silicone wrappers that, in my second time around using glass bottles, I’ve come to believe are entirely unnecessary.
I tend to think, maybe incorrectly (?), that I’m a middle-of-the-roader when it comes to handling child safety. I haven’t entirely banished plastic, but I don’t particularly like it either.
I’m glad to have opened this gift guide to your suggestions. If you know of a comparable product that is as good, or better, than my suggestion that is in a similar or slightly higher price range (wood, plastic, glass, metal or whatever), post a comment and maybe it will be added to the gift guide. If not, it’ll still be a comment on the gift guide for parents to consider.
Here are the gift guides again: