Please Stop Giving my Child Plastic Junk

Please stop giving my kids plastic junkFrom birthday party favors to prize box goodies, my son has acquired a significant number of plastic trinkets in his few years.

He would let you know that I refer to these toys as “junk” and that they usually go missing shortly after they make it through the front door.

While I don’t love them cluttering my home (in fact–most are a choking hazard for my youngest son), I’m not happy about throwing them away either.

These “goodies” only create fleeting moments of joy for little ones, yet the impact they have on our environment is long lasting.

Related: What we Learned Going one Week (almost) Plastic Free!

The Dangers Of Plastic Keep Growing

Plastic pollution continues to be one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues. As a planet, we continue to rapidly produce disposable plastic products in an effort to make life easier, faster and more convenient. The problem is that we are not able to deal with all that’s disposed, and our earth is taking a huge hit for it. The tremendous burden on the earth is most often seen in developing African and Asian nations. There, garbage and waste systems may not even exist, and if they do, they’re typically inefficient at best. Sadly, though, in the developed world, full of resources to make a difference, recycling rates are low. Plastic trash and pollution is such a global issue, efforts to write a global treaty have been negotiated by the United Nations.

And while some brilliant women are taking steps to help reduce plastic pollution and to deal with the plastic trash issue we currently have, we can still do more.

We NEED to do more. Did you know that about half of ALL plastics EVER made have been made in the last decade and a half? Additionally, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes and gets into the oceans from coastal nations every year. This is killing our ocean life, and we’ve not even talked about the inherent dangers of the plastics and additives in plastics, and what they do to our families and our bodies. Just read the research. It’s scary, but our new reality.

So, I kindly ask. Please stop giving plastic junk to my little ones.

In fact, please stop buying it too.

I’m calling for a change because I believe we can ALL do better for our children and Mother Earth.

A friend of mine recently shared a story that resonated with me. After her son completed a museum-led scavenger hunt, including education about the environment, he was offered his choice of cheap, plastic prizes. She later called the museum and inquired why these were the options given. She was kind and openly shared the importance of the museum taking a lead on reducing plastic usage in her community. Instead of meeting her with defense, the museum staff thanked her. Someone let her know they had been thinking about eco-friendly prize options and would expedite the change.

One simple phone call may be all it takes. We can make a difference.

Related: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: In that Order for a Healthier Earth 

Believe me, I am grateful that my son has received gifts and been thought of. I’m even guilty of having given him some of these “junk” gifts in the past. I’ve had to align my actions with my beliefs and get creative.

If you are looking for a few eco-friendly alternatives to plastic prizes and party favors, check out my ideas below. Please comment with your ideas too and share!

Prize box and Party Favor Alternatives:

– Temporary tattoos (I love these)

– Fresh fruit

– Bamboo toothbrushes

– Fun-shaped seed paper (such as these) to plant. We gave these out at my son’s birthday party as favors.

– Box of crayons or colored pencils

– Coloring and activity books

– Reusable stainless steel or bamboo straws

– Homemade Playdough

– Bath bombs (without scary ingredients)

– Playing cards

– Steel or tin cookie cutters in fun shapes

– Seeds and a tiny pot for planting

– Silly socks

Another fun birthday party idea (perhaps for crafty folks) is “make and take” favors such as fairy dust with biodegradable glitter, fairy crowns, or superhero masks.

Whatever the decision, remember the Mother Earth is involved…and the first ‘R’ of the three is to reduce. Just say ‘no’ to plastic trinkets.

Photo: Marcin Balcerzak/Shutterstock


25 thoughts on “Please Stop Giving my Child Plastic Junk”

  1. Could also add wooden trinket toys which can be found many places unpainted for cheap and the kids could paint them theirselves! I’ve found trains, teddy bears, clowns, Angels, hearts and even cartoon and Disney inspired ones!

    Another idea is chalk that is non toxic and cheap! Plus it offers hours of fun and creativity!!

    Could also make wooden bean or pasta jewelry for kids big enough to know not to put them in their mouth…

    Also for trinket boxes or jewelry boxes you can make them out of cardboard and decorate!!

  2. For party favours, I like to give story books, homemade treats + a photo of the guest doing something at the party! You can buy big bulk packages of paperback early readers and other story books from scholastic.

    Someone gave me one of those new Polaroid cameras, and the kids love the novelty of instant physical pictures of themselves (although lighting of these photos has not improved since the 80s, even though the camera are “new”!)

  3. Great article! I agree with most of what you said, we should definitely be holding community spaces responsible for taking actions towards change! Something to consider, when you’re proposing make and take “crafts”, dreamcatchers shouldn’t be a part of that list! The dreamcatcher is part of spiritual practices for many indigenous groups, and isn’t something that we as non-indigenous folks have the right to steal for crafts. Part of the reconciliation work we need to do as settlers is to teach the next generation to do better (which includes removing culturally appropriative “crafts” from our parenting and caregiving practices).

  4. Yes to this. But you suggest temporary tattoos as an alternative party favor. Those have a plastic cover on top so they are still not the best choice when trying to avoid plastic.

    1. Even though temporary tattoos have a plastic cover, the tattoo itself is used to foster creative play. In the spirit of the author’s intentions, I vote they stay. Kids love them and they are intended to be a “temporary” toy, unlike the other toys in the story.

  5. “Flower Seed bombs” or seed packets. Baby trees that a child can watch grow. Milkweed plants for the monarchs.

  6. Great article …. I might write to every magazine to ask them to stop attaching plastic junk to the front then I might buy one! We put wooden key rings, metal slinky’s and sweets wrapped in paper in our party bags.

  7. I don’t like that you said “without scary ingredients”.saying the word “scary” was a huge turnoff for me and almost feels like you’re dumbing it down for weak little mommies. We are all hopefully educated adults here; no need to say “scary ingredients”.

  8. I totally agree,my dear Beverley. Thank you for sharing all the information you have to offer, as our children and grandchildren need to be protected.Let us do our utmost ,Best wishes,you are great. Margit Bischof.

  9. Living in a South West Florida beach community, plastic sand toys are very popular. Do you have an alternative for plastic buckets and shovels for the salty sand?

    1. I suggest using actual utensils, metal or wooden spoon instead & could use inexpensive metal pots from Goodwill or Salvation Army.

  10. Good article! I love the idea of seeds! This has definitely put some new ideas in my head for the next party. Thanks for writing it!

    For the past few years I have been doing T-shirts and edible things for the favor at parties. On the invite I put to RSVP with shirt size. Then I get cotton shirts, reusable stencils or make my own with cardboard and a X-Acto knife, and I bought fabric spray paint that came in reusable pump spray bottles. I have reused them by buying dye and refilling them for a few years, or reusing the bottles for other spraying purposes. If you put out bowls and paint brushes they can spray some of the paint into a bowl and paint designs on the shirts also. It’s fun for the kids to have something they like and will reuse until they grow out of it! I started doing this not so much from and eco stand point but because I found myself looking at the bags my kids were getting from others and thinking this junk is just going to be broken, lost, or cluttering my house. I decided if I was giving out favors I wasn’t going to waste money on something that was just going to be thrown away, They would either be something edible, or something that would be enjoyed and used for an extended period of time.

  11. I think we can just drop the party favor off completely and concentrate on providing a quality time together.

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