You’re making your list and checking it twice, but do you know what’s in those holidays toys? In 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was passed to regulate lead and phthalates in toys and infant products after a public scare related to those made primarily in China. But it seems like each year another batch of tainted imported holiday toys is discovered here in the United States. Here are a four easy ways to tell which holiday toys are naughty and which are nice.
Obesity? Asthma? Cancer? Until the industry makes a commitment to produce holiday toys with safer materials, this is a list worth checking—twice. 1. Before you shop, take a minute to check Parents magazine’s list of this year’s toy recalls.
2. Try to choose gifts that are made in the USA and Canada.
3. Seek out ethically made holiday toys made from natural materials like wood and cloth, especially for babies who will spend a lot of time sucking on them.
4. If plastic holiday toys are on your child’s list, find out what type of plastic you’re buying by looking for a “chasing arrow” symbol on the bottom of the toy; avoid the numbers 1 (PET), 3 (PVC) and 6 (Styrofoam) and look for those marked “BPA-free.”
What’s wrong with plastic? PET and PVC (also known as vinyl) are softened with phthalates. Even low levels of phthalates have been linked to obesity and asthma.
Styrofoam takes 500 years to degrade, dissolves into tiny bits that end up in the ocean, is rarely recyclable, and last year it was assessed as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by the government.
And BPA, used to harden plastics, is a hormone disruptor; it mimics estrogen in the body and has been linked to obesity, anxiety and a brain tumor called meningloma, among other problems.
In 2012, Hasbro commited to eliminating PVC from toy and game packaging beginning in 2013 and announced that they had already started phasing out PVC from packaging; BPA was voluntarily eliminated from their products in 2011.
There are also amazing sustainable toy manufacturers like Green Toys, which takes plastic water bottles and transforms them into things like this ridiculously cute tea set. But until this kind of commitment spreads widely through the holiday toy industry, this is a list worth checking—twice.