Why I Will Keep Reviewing Plastic Toys...For Now Anyway

It feels like every self respecting influencer is shouting about their green credentials these days and posing with the latest eco product. It’s a difficult balance as a blogger because part of our job is essentially to sell things, it’s ultimately why companies send us products or pay for us to go to places, they want our readers to give them money. Yet there is inevitably a conflict between consumerism and being eco-friendly. 

A toddler in a toy shop looking at soft animals

There are obviously people out there who will write rave reviews about anything, but that’s not how I (or most of the bloggers I know) work. I don’t accept everything I am offered and anytime I review a product, service or day out I aim to provide my honest opinion as well as enough information for others to decide if it’s for them. I would absolutely hate anyone to spend money on something that wasn’t right for them based on my recommendation; I want to help people make an informed choice.

And so we come to the eco thing. It’s not just influencers but everyone I talk to who are starting to think much harder about the impact of what they buy and do. I am looking more at how products are produced, their packaging, where they come from, how long they will be used for and what happens to it next.  Alongside all of that though it is hugely important that the products are effective and worth the money otherwise any energy and resources are wasted. Which leads me to my point…

Are you going to see me reviewing more eco products on here? Definitely. I am interested in seeing what swaps I can make and how good alternative products are. 

Am I going to be avoiding anything that is plastic or single use? No. And I don’t see that as hypocrisy. Many of my children’s favourite toys are plastic. We have plastic toys that have been played with hundreds of times over the years. There are also wooden toys we have which have barely been looked at in boxes alongside abandoned plastic. Of course we have well loved wooden toys too and I feel much more protective towards my Grimm's rainbow than any of our DUPLO or Happyland toys. 

I would rather review something which turns out not to become our new favourite toy if the information I provide helps others to only purchase products they will actually play with and use. After all if my children think something looks fun based on the advert or shiny box, they won’t be the only ones. I want to help people decide whether it’s really for them.

For most of us it is a case of every little helps. I strongly believe in the reduce, reuse and recycle approach. We can all make a difference, but I am not currently in a place where I want to say “no” to my children’s wishes just because the toy industry hasn’t caught up with the “use less plastic” agenda. I am buying less and I am buying more carefully, but I don’t have the luxury of enough money (or time) to always buy the greenest options. I am doing better, but I’m not going to claim to be amazing. Doing something to become more eco-friendly is better than nothing.

Child playing with Grimm's rainbow and other toys

Baby in a cloth nappy next to a big pile of LEGO DUPLO

So what are my eco credentials?

Menstrual cups. I started using one of those after my 2nd child was born and I love my mooncup. They are great. The reason I got it? My postpartum periods were so heavy that using disposables wasn’t feasible while working.

Diet. I’m dairy free and have been for 2 1/2 years. Did I stop cow’s milk because I was concerned about cow’s welfare or the impact of their farts on the environment? No it was in a desperate attempt to stop my baby waking every hour. We eat less meat these days too, but the driver behind that is money.

Reusable water bottles. All summer long we have been really good at taking our reusable water bottles out with us. I love that we have used less plastic, but they also saved us a fortune. They happen to be plastic bottles we were sent to review last year and I bought an additional one.

Recycling and composting. A huge amount of our waste is sent off to be recycled or composted, but I’ll admit to being less diligent about this since watching a programme that talked about how in practise much of the recycling isn’t recycled. It made me realise it really is better to use less. 

Cloth nappies and wipes. For the last 4 months we have been using cloth nappies and reusable wipes pretty much exclusively with Baby Boy. Did we switch because of the concern over just how much we were sending to landfill? Nope (although with two children in nappies at the time I did feel pretty guilty). I switched because Baby Boy had nappy rash for a month and no matter which nappies I tried it wouldn’t go. It did with cloth. 
There is a lot I love about reusable nappies, but if it wasn’t for that nappy rash I would be so tempted to use good old disposable nappy pants. Putting a cloth nappy on a wriggly baby is even harder than with disposables. The reuseable wipes though I love and recommend them to EVERYONE. I’ll also admit I love the amount of money we are saving on nappies and wipes too.

Flannels. It’s not my first experience of reusable wipes though really. 7 1/2 years ago when I started weaning my eldest I bought a multi pack of IKEA flannels for cleaning her face, hands, highchair and everywhere else she smeared food. Since then I have bought several more packs and we use them for everything. Some have worn out from over use, but each one has been used hundreds of times.

Flying less. We have only been abroad once a year for the last few years. Are we concerned about the environmental impact of flights? No it’s the money thing again.

So I'm much "greener" than I was a few years ago, but the main drivers for those changes hasn't been the environment.

And my guilty secrets? 

I order far too much from Amazon without investigating where the product was made, how it will be packaged or how far it will be shipped.
I drive when I should probably walk because it’s faster and less stressful with my children.
While I do sometimes buy organic, free range, local foods, in less packaging I often buy cheap food and drink ignoring where it came from. I used to be much better when we had more disposable income.
I buy far less clothes now because we don’t have the money, but when I do a good proportion are cheap items and I choose not to think about how they were made and who by. Obviously I love all the local indie brands on Instagram, but I just can’t afford to buy them often.

Do I care about the future of our planet? Absolutely, but I also care about the present health and happiness of my family. I am making better choices and I want to help others be more informed, but there is a limit on how much I’m currently prepared to sacrifice.

Plus you know with Brexit, the state of our country and the Trump impact in the US: we are possibly all too late anyway.

A baby pulling a cheeky face holding a medium size Amazon box

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