Toys, waste and climate change: should we buy toys at all?

If you’ve been following the news, you may have come across stories about insect collapse, the mysterious and precipitous drop in insect numbers. In some instances, the cause seems to be pesticides, in others global warming. Either way, we are almost certainly to blame. We buy too much, waste too much and use too much energy. Aren’t toys just contributing to the problem?

Children have always had – and will always have – toys. Whether it’s sticks, pebbles or building blocks, toys serve a developmental purpose. They help break down big concepts into bite-sized chunks. If you’ve got a big garden and enough time and expertise to offer your child the right experiences, you can get by with very few – if any – toys. But for the rest of us, a small collection of toys is an inevitable part of life. If chosen with care, they provide stimulation and challenge to children who often spend long stretches at home, away from nature.

You may think it’s hypocritical to advocate fewer possessions and environmental awareness and yet sell toys which are contributing to energy consumption and therefore climate change, but in my mind, at least, there is no contradiction. I don’t like waste. I worry about the planet. But a well-educated, thoughtful child will be a force for good in a world where answers to our environmental problems will be even more pressing. We need problem-solvers and critical thinkers.

A few well-chosen toys can help.

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