Environment

Play Nice: 9 Eco-Friendly Toys

This year's Toy Fair in NYC showed a notable trend toward green toys.

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Photo Credits: All text by Rachel Cernansky; all photos by Rachel Cernansky unless otherwise noted

Every year, toy companies flaunt their wares at the celebrated Toy Fair, held at New York City's Javits Center. There was a notable green trend at this year's show, which showcased toys that use eco-friendly materials or are meant to teach kids an environmental lesson.

Standing about eight feet tall and perched above all the heads in the convention hall, this dinosaur was constructed entirely of EnviroBlox. These foam-like building blocks are made from corn starch and food coloring, and stick together with just a touch of water.

With almost 300 million tires discarded annually in the U.S., there is no shortage of materials for Wildlife Creations's creative swings. They come in various animal shapes (horse pictured here), each made from, more or less, one recycled tire. Adults needn't feel left out--it can hold up to 200 pounds.

This toy isn't waterproof like its popular yellow cousin, but it does offer hours of self-powered fun. Press the colored buttons and prepare to be mesmerized by the duck's lights and sounds, powered not by batteries but by a wind-up mechanism inside the duck's body.

With the goal of providing "battery-less electronic toys," Ecotronic, the company behind the duck, offers a range of wind-up toys and battery-free, animal-shaped flashlights--all packaged in biodegradable Gekopak boxes.

This fire truck is made from rubberwood, which the company obtains from organic, recycled trees, but looks and feels like regular old-school wood. With forest resources quickly diminishing, Inspired Play believes that starting kids off with a sustainable footprint is the responsible way to go.

This penguin has been pieced together from recycled cardboard pieces, and is one of countless green jigsaw puzzles waiting to be taken on by any kid up to the challenge. Eurographics has a catalog almost too heavy to lift, and if the design you need isn't there, the company can even custom-make it for you.

Photo Credits: Image: Thames and Kosmos

Like many Thames & Kosmos toys that simulate real-world applications of chemistry and physics, this model comes with various experiments for kids to try out, including info on how to construct and load a reversible fuel cell.

This eco-magician goes by the name Steve Trash, and he came all the way from Boulder, Colorado, to show off his Imagiplay tricks.

Here he's showing off a magically disappearing toothpick, the parts for which come in a kit with two other tricks that any child can master. He uses rubberwood, bamboo, and other sustainable materials based on his belief that "everyone is downwind or downstream from somebody else."

Here, Steve Trash shows off his rubberwood magic cube. Each side represents one of the four elements. He is about to place the cube in a box with the "water" side facing up. Even though the box is just big enough to fit the cube, allowing it no room to move around, he will open the box again with the "fire" side facing up. Magic!

Kayla the Marsh Pixie is a doll with a mission. Each of the three Planet Pixies represents an endangered environment: marsh, ice, and forest. Kayla comes with a tag that tells kids (or adults) about the Everglades and the environmental problems facing them, like water pollution and loss of land, as well as steps kids can take to help.

Anyu the Ice Pixie hails from the North Pole--eco-problem: global warming--while Maia the Tree Pixie focuses on the Amazonian rainforest. Collect all three, made from organic cotton, and you've covered the basics of the planet's biggest troubles.

This recycled cardboard play-house arrives from the store in a box containing unassembled pieces that kids construct and paint with nontoxic watercolors. When finished, they've built their first sustainable home, with recycling bins and all.

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