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