Toys may contain dangerous chemicals. This is especially true when it comes to plastic toys. Plastic toys may contain stabilizers and plasticizers that are harmful to the environment and health. Phthalates are plasticizers that can affect the hormone balance in the body and damage the ability to reproduce. Phthalates are most common in PVC plastics. The use of phthalates is to some extent prohibited in toys but allowed in other products such as sandals, pencil cases, erasers, and clothing printing.
About 80 percent of the world’s toys are made in China. Production is dominated by young Chinese and foreign workers who work in unacceptable conditions. It is often performed in inappropriate working conditions with long hours and low wages which is illegal. They usually have very little influence over their work situation and often have no opportunity to self-organize through unions. It is common for them to lack access to social protection and sometimes they do not even get an employment contract.
Tips for a conscious consumption of toys
- The supply of toys that are produced in a responsible way may be small, but it can be found in smaller stores that specialize in fair trade. You can find stores in our Ekoguide.
- To put pressure on the major actors in the toy market, consumers can ask questions about working conditions, environmental considerations, and health in the store or contact the companies directly.
- Avoid plastic toys made with PVC. It can be a good idea to keep children away from other plastic things that contain PVC because young children like to chew on most things.
- Look for wooden toys (but make sure the paint they are painted with is proven safe) and fabric toys, preferably made of organic material.
- Pay attention and be careful with ornaments and jewelry that contain supernatant liquids, they can contain very dangerous mineral oils and phthalates.
- Buying used toys is good for both the environment and the wallet, but the Swedish Consumer Agency and the Swedish Chemicals Agency advise against using toys older than 2013 because the EU rules for chemicals in toys were restricted that year.
- Think quality over quantity. Avoid buying many toys of low quality. Make a conscious decision and spend a little more money on a good product rather than many products of low quality.
- If a toy has a strong smell, avoid it. It may contain perfumes or chemicals that can be harmful to children.
- Return to the store with toys whose built-in batteries are exhausted or stuck. The seller is obliged to take care of them.
- Paint and glue often contain solvents. Choose organic / eco-labeled glue, crayons, and pencils. Do not allow the youngest children to come into contact with kits such as cars and airplanes because they have both paint and glue that can be harmful.
- Makeup can be allergenic. Avoid it for small children and older children for as long as possible.
- Feel free to make your own toys. It is easy to find simple and good recipes for completely harmless Play-Doh and equivalent.