Ethical doesn't equal boring: 10 plastic-free gifts for kids under $25

Kinderling News & Features

Shevonne Hunt is the host of Kinderling Conversation.

Ask anyone who knows me, I have a thing for presents.

I love to think about them, I love to plan them, I love to buy them. Giving them is the piece de resistance of all my efforts, but if I’m honest I think I enjoy the fun of hunting down something special most of all.

If you have children you will know they have a penchant for loving garish plastic landfill that strikes dread in the heart of many parents. And I am a parent who loves to surprise children (mine and others) with the joy of receiving something they truly love.

The problem is the environment.

And while I am by no means the most ethical parent I know, I still shudder at the thought of buying useless plastic toys.

Lots of children's parties = lots of presents

Now that I have children who can play with others, there are quite a few parties on the horizon.

And rather than go to a massive toy store chain and fill up my trolley, I’ve done a bit of research to find my favourite eco-friendly toys under $25.00.

There’s a caveat to this. I am by no means a zero-sum eco warrior, though I totally respect families that can live within strict environmental guidelines. Some of these toys may come attached with air miles to transport them to our shores. Therefore, if that is likely to upset you, please don’t read on.

If you’re like me however, trying to do your best and starting small (ie. avoiding plastic is the first big step) then you might be interested in the following list.

1. Sprout Pencils  I’m not sure I need to go any further than, well, 'sprout pencils'. How cool are these?! Once the pencil has run out you can turn it around, stick it in some soil and voila! You have a mint, thyme or other plant curling it’s way out of a pot! You can buy them in singles or packs. $6.95 for a single, $16.95 for 3, or $33.95 for a pack of eight.

2. Sunkit Print This fun little kit allows kids to create a unique nature print. Children collect flora from around and about, put it in the special paper then hold it up to the sun. After some time the heat will create a special outline of the plant that was enclosed within. $13.00 will give you 12 sheets to play with.

3. Little Gardeners Grow and Create Pot Mini Sunflower As I have nothing resembling a green thumb I love these little kits. They come with the pot, soil pellets, seeds, and the pots are made from 100% recycled materials. They are $9.95 ea. The website also has a stack of cute little “grass growing heads” to choose from.

5. Farm Animal Croquet Set This may look suitable for very small children, but judging by the hand-eye coordination of some older kids, I think they’d still get a kick out of this. I love that it’s something that gets them outside, and the animals are pretty cute.

6. The Little Paper Ball Run  I saw this little beauty at my sister’s place (her children were six and four at the time) and it was giving them hours of fun. This one probably needs an adult to help out in construction, but then it can keep children amused while the parent goes off for a cuppa. $21.00.

7. Moulin Roty Castle Shadow Puppets Moulin Roty is a gorgeous French toy brand, normally falling on the expensive end of the spectrum, but these cute little shadow puppet sets are affordable at $25.95. I love the idea of recreating the magic of a shadow puppet show, shining a torch on the wall just before bed.

8. Djeco Fairy Puppets Craft Kit If you search you might find a similar kit of dinosaurs if fairies aren’t quite to your taste. Djeco has an incredible range of beautiful craft activities for kids, but this one tickles my fancy as I can imagine kids would love putting their fairy together (and it doesn’t look too taxing for the adult involved) $14.95.

9. Oxfam Set of Two Easter Bunnies My daughter is a fiend for soft toys, so I’ve included this one for children like her. While these two little cuties have been released for Easter, I’m hoping they’ll keep them on after the holiday passes. I’ve seen them in store and they are beautifully made for $21.95.

10. Le Toy Van – Construction Set  This one has slipped over my budget of $25 but I think it’s worth it. For those kids who don’t go for crafts or gardening style toys, this set of wooden diggers and the like will keep them playing for hours in the dirt.  This set includes 5 construction vehicles with functioning parts: a lifting crane, scoop, roller, digger, tip-up truck, and two traffic cones. $26.95.