For one thing, they're nearly all plastic. And for another, they're nearly all packaged with vast amounts of cardboard, shrink-wrap, zip-ties, and other landfill-clogging waste. Environmentally friendly? Forget about it.
It doesn't have to be that way, though. Plenty of toys will give your kids an appreciation of green concepts without destroying the environment in the process. Maybe it ain't easy being green, but snag yourself one of these top-selling hits and it'll certainly be fun.
Based in Wilton, Connecticut, the company's large enough that you should be able to find its products anywhere around the country, but still small enough to care about using quality, eco-friendly materials. Who needs polluting, oil-burning, non-biodegradable plastic?
It ships as a kit, which is either a pro or a con depending on your level of robotics-assembling skill -- and, naturally, batteries are not included.
This Alternative Energy kit can be used on its own or with other Snap Circuits toys, and comes with solar panels, windmills, rechargable batteries, water wheels, stored-energy devices, and all manner of other clean-energy tools.
This Dole-branded kit includes everything they'll need to put together their own vegetable patch: seeds, pots, row markers, and even some recipes for the finished product. As a bonus, the kids are going to be far more likely to eat their vegetables if they've nurtured them all the way from seedlings. How's that for good habits?
Navigating this planet of ours through the challenges of the 21st century is going to require smart, responsible kids. Get yours off to a good start with National Geographic's Sustainable Earth Lab, an outstanding set of projects and experiments that'll give them an overview of everything from the importance of water conservation to renewable energy. They'll build miniature water treatment plants, solar cells, make recycled paper and plastic, and more. Maybe there's hope for us yet.
Izar Gafni's cardboard bicycle
Wait a minute. A cardboard bicycle? Tempted as you might be to check the publish date of this documentary, it's no April Fool prank. The brainchild of an Israeli inventor, it uses just nine dollars' worth of recycled cardboard to create a fully functioning bicycle capable of carrying nearly 500 pounds of rider. Protective paint makes it waterproof, and cardboard tires make it puncture-proof too, or so we imagine. Can it really make it to market, or is it too good to be true? Its creator hopes to bring it to market next year, if he can find investors willing to join him on his wild, eco-friendly ride.
- Nature & Environment