We were delighted to be asked to write an article for top blog Green Girls Global, and have reproduced it here for your information…
“I love plastic. I want to be plastic,” said Andy Warhol back in the groovy sixties when this seemingly miraculous substance began to shape and colour our everyday lives.
Back then the new plastic furniture and futuristic fashions seemed like a lot of fun but as the decades moved on increasing awareness about the toxicity of these products has left us with a serious ‘plastic' hangover.
Today in the North Atlantic there is a floating mass of waste plastic – this is literally hundreds of miles long and poses a dire threat to the ocean's sealife, with six times more plastic particles by weight here than plankton. And Charles Moore from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, who has studied this ‘plastic tsunami,' is concerned that each year we manufacture yet another 60 billion tones of the stuff.
“Every bit of plastic ever made still exists,” he says. The fact is that plastic crumbles into ever smaller fragments when exposed to the elements, but never biodegrades. In reality, we don't actually know how long it will take for plastics to degrade and although some plastics can be recycled, most require a new virgin layer of plastic added each time.
According to Dan Parkinson at the BBC only 7% of the two million tons of plastic waste created in the UK is recyced each year.
The negative health effects of plastic toys were well publicised in 1999 due to a ban on teething rings and soft vinyl toys for under 5's made from PVC containing phthalates in both the European Union and Japan. Although teething rings containing this chemical are now banned, according to the International Plastics Task Force there are other pliable toys available such as bath and squeeze toys which still contain phthalates.
Because of this traditional wooden toys are coming back into fashion. They are made from sustainable materials, can be painted in bright colours with non-toxic paints and they are timeless classics. Not to mention the benefits they provide in-terms of both our children's health and the environment when compared to plastic toys.
It's virtually impossible to rid your house of all plastic products to reduce your child's exposure to the potentially harmful toxins but you can make a choice about the toys they play with. Make a start by only purchasing toys made with alternative natural materials such as sustainable timber or textiles.
Traditionally, children's parties have been one of the worst contributors to the ever growing problem of landfill saturation due to the amount of disposable goods they use but again you can make small changes for maximum benefits.
Carrier bags and party bags don't have to be made from plastics, why not choose natural cotton drawstring bags, which can be reused? Party bags don't have to be filled with cheap plastic disposable toys from the pound shop, it's better to invest in a single toy your child's friends will love than a bag full of rubbish they won't. Not only that, it doesn't have to cost the earth (pun intended!) there are many sustainable wooden toys such as spinning tops, pencils and pretty wooden jewelry starting from as little as £1.
With more and more options for a greener lifestyle becoming available, now is the time to choose goods with a conscience, both for your child, your peace of mind and the future sustainability of the environment.