Tag Archives | plastic toys

Sponsored Post – Disney On Ice Vancouver

With my journey to research sustainable  products I sometimes struggle with Disney. It was harder when the kids were younger and I was left to wonder what types of plastic many of their toys are made from. But there are some things that you can’t argue about Disney and it’s an emotion and feeling wrapped up in a whole lotta magic. We are an old school Disney family as our kids loved the Disney classics: Snow White, 101 Dalmatians, Lion King, Peter Pan. And when your children believe in a place filled with dogs that communicate via The Twilight Bark, a Princess that enchants forest animals, and my favorite; a land where there are lost boys, pirates, mermaids, and a captain with a hook, it’s priceless and I wouldn’t take away any Disney memories from my kids. My kids entire childhood is filled with these Disney visions and we’ve never been to Disneyland. But we have read stories, watched movies, and had attended 2 Disney On Ice Performances. When the boys were very young we attended Nemo On Ice and it was amazing. The boys are now ages 7 and 9 and squealed with joy when I told them we’re attending Toy Story 3 Disney On Ice this week. That is the magic of Disney – you can be any age and truly just feel joy when you see the characters stepping onto the ice. I can’t wait to see the reaction from my twin daughters that haven’t been to a show yet!

Check out the Vancouver show featuring moments from different Toy Story movies and taking place at the Pacific Coliseum. Mention the code LOTSO by phone or enter it online and pay only $15 per ticket for children!   This deal is available for these shows so hurry to book as tickets won’t last:

  • THURSDAY Nov 24th @ 7:30 PM AND SATURDAY Nov 26th @ 12:00 PM

Vancouver is hosting eight shows from November 23 – 27, 2011. Tickets for Disney on Ice presents Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story 3 in Vancouver are available online at www.ticketmaster.ca or by calling 1-855-985-5000.  You can check out video clips of all Disney On Ice shows by visiting the official Disney On Ice site.

 

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Greener Holidays & Eliminating PVC Under The Tree

Hello!  I’ve been away for ages and miss writing terribly so I’m thrilled to be covering a few different issues on my mind: greener ways to wrap gifts, the annual ‘fake or real’ Christmas tree debate, and Toys R Us and toxic toys. Much of my time in the last 2 months has gone to sourcing for my on-line store Green Planet Parties. I wanted to find items that were very green and practical…items that are truly unique, truly green, and still whisper Christmas when you see them. What do you think about gift bags, gift wrap, gift tags, and cards that are seeded with wild flower seeds so they can be planted once they start to tear?  Sounds kinda cool right?  I thought so – I’m very proud of the category called ‘Christmas Wrapped Up‘ and the products listed here are either plantable or reusable. Not only are the plantable items magical, but the reusable cloth santa sacks, Furochic wrap, fabric gift tags, and wooden clothespin reusable/vintage vibe items looking great!  If you are like me, I cringe when I wrap presents for people or even when I reuse traditional gift bags because there is a strange odor from them.  It’s not my imagination..I’m convinced they are coated with something toxic. I know I should be using newspaper or craft paper, but sometimes (especially around the holidays) you want unique and seasonal presentation with gifts.  Enter plantable gift bags or wrap and cloth Santa Sacks – these products are truly green and will remove any guilt with wrapping your gift and leave you singing Fa La La La La the entire time!

My next holiday themed topic is the annual debate of ‘fake vs. real’ Christmas trees. Which one is truly kinder to the environment? Some people say that reusing a fake tree is a better choice because you’re not cutting down young trees each year.  Others will argue that trees grown specifically for Christmas season is a better choice for the environment. I haven’t felt qualified to cover this topic in recent years but I’m ready to voice my opinion and let me start by saying we’ve used a fake tree for close to 6 years and I always felt a little smug because the thought of cutting down baby trees made me sad.  But – then I learned that all fake Christmas trees are produced from PVC.  This is the plastic (#3) that is called poison plastic.  You just need to understand that after you purchase a fake tree it will never leave the earth in an environmentally kind way.  Never. It’s taken me years to fully understand that a fake Christmas tree releases toxic dioxins into the air, into our bodies from the time the plastic is produced with making it, after you purchase it (the reason it smells) and there isn’t a way to effectively dispose of the tree. If you burn it – more dioxins are released, it cannot be recycled, so it will continue to exist when discarded for a very long time. The issue of PVC isn’t only about it’s harm to the environment, but also human heath.  Please note that I’m not suggesting anyone with a fake Christmas tree throw it away.  When something is functional, it should be reused as much as possible.  This information is for people struggling with the decision of “should I purchase a fake tree this year”?  When I purchased my fake tree, I had no idea what it was made from. Now I can make an educated decision on my tree this year, but it won’t involve throwing out a fake tree if it’s still usable.  Would I ever purchase another one?  Definitely not.

A new trend last year were little tree companies that will bring you a potted tree to use over the holidays, then it’s returned to the nursery or transplanted. It is easy to find they companies using Google but I warn you, this option is wonderful and very eco-friendly, but it’s expensive. Could you not purchase a potted tree on your own for less money I wonder?

Or – a very sustainable option exists out of Chicago.  The price of this tree is the equivalent to an expensive fake tree – but it’s lovely and hand made, and I want one all for myself to decorate with acorn ornaments.  This picture is from the talented Forestry Handmade site… get ready to swoon.

Now that I’ve softened you up with wonderful relaxing photos of handcrafted Christmas trees, I have some hard facts about toys and PVC. I have drafted so many articles that I’ve never published because they are full rants about Hasbro, Disney, Barbie, Toys R Us, and many more companies that produce and sell plastic toys because of my frustration that they can’t keep the issue of ‘safe plastic’ a priority for our children’s health. I’m going to try and remove all the personal conflict I feel about plastic toys aside (I’ve ranted along these lines before) and stick to the facts that CHEJ outlined this week on a new site they’ve launched called Toxic Toys R Us. This is a project run by consumer advocates looking to inform consumers about the sale of PVC-contaminated toys at Toys R Us. The hard facts are that although Toys R Us promised to remove PVC plastic, phthalates, and lead from toys they sell back in 2008 but tests have shown that toys they sell still contain PVC and no amount of labelling from the large toy manufacturers will help parents to understand if they are truly safe.  I cannot wait for their Toxic Toys R Us 2010 Report…I wish it was already out. And it’s only Toys R Us that’s been called out on the issue of PVC and toys.. . and we should be aware that all other big box stores carry the same products, the same toys, with the same set of standards.  Again, what is the problem for a toy made from PVC to land under the tree Christmas morning?  The same problems that I outlined with the fake Christmas tree are true for toys.  I wonder if this is the Christmas that as parents (myself included) wake up and realize the damage plastic has done.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but I have very mixed feeling about Christmas and it’s wonderful that I can purge my feelings and perhaps help others who might be confused about different choices we can make this holiday season.

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PVC & Christmas Toys

Sometimes I struggle remembering the old days of running through Toys R Us blindly picking out all of the plastic toys that my kids would love (if only for 2 minutes before they broke) that light up, shoot things, and were made with cheap plastic. I remember the kind of ignorance I once had and it was a very peaceful ignorance.  I had no idea what PVC plastic, phthalates, plasticizers were and I wasn’t haunted while shopping for my kids. I used to have the bulk of my Christmas shopping finished in August every year, getting great deals because my shopping list was dictated by sales, rather than any sort of eco conscience.

Well, two years later, things have really changed around here with shopping, planning, and budgeting for Christmas. Rather than rushing out to buy toys when they go on sale, I Google toys first to find out where they are manufactured and what materials they are made from. It actually makes impulse buying impossible. I was very excited to start shopping for my girls this year since they are so creative and imaginative at 3 years old. They also have a deep love for Ariel the mermaid, a Disney character, so having an Ariel doll, Prince Eric doll, and the rest of the characters under the tree for my girls was pretty high on their list. Only deep down I know that all of the ‘Disney Princess’ and ‘ Barbie’ type dolls and their accessories are plastic and made with PVC.  I could totally make an exception if they were just made from plastic and not PVC, but I truly don’t believe Mattel or Disney statements about what they use to make their plastic dolls. I also put this question out to The Safe Mama and The Safe Landing and they confirmed my fears.  So for weeks now I’ve been trying to rationalize my fear of having my daughters cuddle brand new PVC dolls and thinking that Santa is the best thing ever or trying to find a Waldorf type looking doll that is made from cloth and filled with safe stuffing and removing the commercialism from Christmas. It may sound silly, but these types of decisions haunt me. I think all parents just love finding that perfect toy that their children will shriek with pure joy when they unwrap Christmas morning.

I am trying to stick to a big goal this Christmas with plastic toys ~ unless it’s been purchased 2nd hand or from a thrift store, it will not be going under the tree. Wish me luck.  Right now, my frustration with the Barbie/Disney type dolls is not their body shape being distorted, but the material in which the doll is made from is toxic. Frustrating still that the only mermaid toys I could find for tubby time for my girls were Barbie mermaids.  And please know, as I do now, that the bendy tail on her mermaid body is filled with phthalates to get it bendy, and the rest of her is created with PVC plastic – the most inexpensive and toxic plastic that exists. And the fact this toy is meant to go into water (a bathtub) with children and the plastic it’s made from has been called a carcinogen. So why am I struggling with this if I know purchasing these toys might lead to cancer causing materials to surround my children? I wish I could answer that.

Forget the fact that Barbie or the Disney dolls cannot be recycled or ever by properly disposed of.  I wait for the day a huge manufacturer of kids toys (like Mattel) to decide to use their billions of dollars and produce ‘plastic’ toys from the natural rubber tree like Plan Toys or the manufactures of Sophie ~ why can the smaller companies do it and the large ones can’t?  I’m really not big on the idea of boycotts or slamming a company via a blog, but all toy companies need to be held accountable for damage caused to human health and environmental health. Starting my mental check-list of Christmas shopping for my kids should not be this hard or require this much research, but in fact, toy companies cannot be trusted with my children’s health. They have proved one too many times that they don’t care enough.  And apparently with the billions of dollars they make, there are not enough parents asking them to change. I hope they experience huge losses in profit this Christmas and that the greener toys manufacturers and small shops that produce toys by hand are the people that truly profit this year. They are the people that are protecting my children with sourcing different ways to produce toys that don’t adversely affect a child’s health. Blech -shopping used to be so much easier and enjoyable.

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Color Me House ~ Best Summer Toy Pick

Looking for a great open-ended project that will keeps kids busy and happy for days/weeks/months this summer?  My clan has been working on a playhouse from Color Me House and there is no end in sight to the enjoyment they are having.  You’ll always hear from experienced parents or grandparents that a child’s favorite toy is the box the toy arrived in.  I completely agree because if you give your kid a discarded cardboard appliance box, a set of pencil crayons or paint, and help them cut windows and doors with a knife ~ you’ll have very happy kids. 

The concept of playing with a left-over box is great for your own children, but you’d look silly giving this as a gift.  Also, large, sturdy boxes are not easy to find.  Well the folks at Color Me House have the perfect solution because they’ve produced 2 products (made in the USA) that are my pick as best summer toys.  Why are they so awesome?  The great designs are perfect for boys or girls with blasting out of your backyard in the rocket or spending hours in a spacious play house.  Both designs have wonderful details that kids notice and are designed for open-ended play because children can draw, color, and paint both the inside and outside.  They are also very easy to assemble, easy to store when kids are not using, and can be recycled at your curb when their shelf life is over.  Honestly, any parents thinking of purchasing huge plastic play houses for your backyard this summer should consider testing their kid with this product first.  Unless you purchase an outdoor playhouse 2nd hand, you’ll spend hundreds of dollars and you’ve just added to a huge problem with large plastic toys ~ most are not recyclable.  With how tentative I am to purchase plastic toys for the kids, with worrying about what they are made from, painted with, and how they’ll be disposed once my kids are finished with them, the Color Me House projecthas been wonderful.  It’s been the best toy for the different ages of my kids…everyone has something to color or play with. My 7 year old has been drawing planets and aliens on the roof, next to the pre-cut stars and moon the house came with (love the attention to detail).  My 5 year old and twin 3 year olds have equally had a blast with coloring and actually playing in the house.  There is lots of room inside the play house and the price point on this product is very reasonable ~ $39.95 US.  I’ve seen similar products for almost double the cost so it’s nice they’ve kept these affordable to parents.  Color Me House is located in the US, but they ship everywhere ordering via their website (incl. Canada) and sell both products in these retail stores.

I’ll post more pictures once my kids have finished their masterpiece. I’m hoping it takes all summer long.  <wink>

   

Related articles:

What You Don’t Know About Plastic Toys Made From PVC

A Truly Eco-Friendly Playhouse

Kid’s Project – Turn Cardboard Boxes Into Functional Furniture

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Less Is More Theory and Experiment

I’ve noticed with interest that dollar stores in my community are going out of business.  You would think in this economy where people are trying to save money that the dollar store business would be going strong.  Could it be that consumers, especially parents, are realizing that less is more?  I believe so.  Back-to-basics, sustainability, quality, craftsmanship, safety are words that parents are willing to pay more for.

From toys, to beauty products, and even our produce ~ I would rather buy organic, pesticide-free for my children.  Shopping in smaller amounts, rather than filling up my cart, without thinking through what I’ll truly need to use.  There has been much buzz about pesticides to avoid with food and mainstream press is starting to write about how toxic most personal care products are.  From organic food, to organic shampoo/soap, to safe toys made from natural or stringently tested materials come at a higher cost.  As a parent, I’m willing to pay a few extra dollars for products I know are coming from business that care and source products with the safely of my children at the forefront.  Most bios from mompreneurs include the fact they were deeply unsatisfied with answers, product selection and product knowledge from traditional stores.  I challenge anyone reading this to an experiment we’ll call the ‘Less-Is-More Theory’.  Walk into your local department store and ask the store clerk or manager questions about their toys, bath toys, personal care products, produce, water bottles, etc.  I myself started doing this when I noticed most store chains have started branding their store label on stainless steel water bottles; Old Nay, The Bay, London Drugs, Superstore, even Dollar Stores.  Not one of these retailers could tell me anything about their store branded stainless steel water bottles.  They had no idea what stainless steel grade they were or that there were different steel grades out there.  I hear about dollar stores that simply ‘dip’ the outside of water bottles to coat god-knows-what material underneath.  I’m not saying these retail stores are doing this, but from a quality issue, I’d like to know more about the grade I’m purchasing so I know how to care for it.  If you are nervous about purchasing bath products (personal care or toys), food or water containers, or plastic toys and the store cannot answer simple questions I would not purchase them.  Here are some basics that they should be able to answer:

What grade of stainless steel is this?
What type of plastic is this made from? Where is it manufactured?
Does this product contain phthalates, parabens, fragrance, BPA?
Is this toy (bath or not) PVC free?
What pesticide is used on this produce item?

If the person cannot answer your questions ~ don’t buy it.  Now finish this challenge.  Contact any of the store owners from this list of businesses and ask them the same questions.  I would bet a lot of money, they can answer your question, plus give you more than you expected:

Green Planet Parties
Healthy Kitchenware
H2Ox2
Kai Kids
Natural Pod
Nayla Natural Care
The Tickle Trunk

The list goes on, but you start here and receive top notch customer service and product knowledge.  You will never think again that getting Dollar Store bargains for these types of products is a good idea.  Dollar store priced stores have their place for certain types of products in my opinion; however, the health of your family is not an area they where they specialize and no price tag can be put on the future health of your children.

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