9 Toys to Help Teach Little Ones About the Environment and Being Green

Babies and toddlers may be too young to learn about composting, but they can begin to learn about animals, nature, recycling and how to be a friend to the environment.
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By Jackie Cucco, Senior Editor, the Toy Insider
Updated April 21, 2021
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April may be Earth Month, but it’s important to practice and teach eco-friendliness all year round. In recent years, sustainability has been trending, with more and more brands looking to make their products more eco-conscious and eco-friendly. While it may not seem like a big difference, there are little things each of us can do daily, like bringing a reusable bag to buy groceries, getting coffee in a reusable tumbler and composting kitchen scraps that can make for a healthier planet (and healthier people).

One of the best ways to ensure our planet’s future? To teach kids about being green and environmentally friendly from a young age. While they may not understand how composting works just yet, babies and toddlers can be introduced to concepts like nature, recycling and more. Plus, with the emphasis on eco-friendliness, many kids’ toys are taking pains to ensure their products are both good for baby and for the Earth. Below, some toys that contribute to a more sustainable planet and help teach little ones about the environment.

Image: Courtesy Kid Trax Toys

Real Rigs Recycling Truck from Kid Trax Toys

Ages: 18 months to 4 years

This ride-on toy helps introduce little ones to the concept of recycling in the form of an anthropomorphic truck with a moving mouth and eyes, working lights and more than 100 sound effects, catchy songs and phrases, such as “recycling is a blast” and “let’s clean up this town.” It comes with nine recycling-themed accessories—including toy versions of soda and soup cans, cardboard boxes, a newspaper, food containers, and glass bottles—that kids can sort by placing them in the slots in the back of the truck.

Buy it: $150,

Image: Courtesy eeBoo

Natural Science Memory and Matching Game from eeBoo

Ages: 3 years and older

One to four players can learn about natural science by pairing up 24 tiles featuring different science illustrations with mammals, birds, bugs, weather events, fossils, and minerals on them. The set includes a science facts poster and the tiles are printed on recycled paper with vegetable-based inks. eeBoo is known for its sustainable practices and the company recently announced that it will be changing its FSC-certified paper to source from wood fibers.

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Buy it: $16,

Image: Courtesy Shore Buddies

Shore Buddies Plush Animals from Shore Buddies

Ages: All ages

Each of the five Shore Buddies characters teaches kids about ocean conservation. Every plush toy is made out of six recycled plastic bottles and is just as soft as it is sweet. Characters include Sammy the Seal, Shelly the Sea Turtle, Stephen Seagull, Finn the Dolphin, and Emma the Whale.

Buy it: $20,

Image: Courtesy Mattel

Mega Bloks First Builders Woodland Friends from Mattel

Ages: 12 months to 5 years

This set includes 70 big building blocks, all made from sugarcane-based polyethylene, a renewable raw material. It also comes with 100% recyclable and FSC-certified packaging, made from both recycled and sustainably-grown materials. Kids can use the blocks to build a jungle scene, match colors, stack them to build motor skills, or build a fox, a bear, a raccoon, a bunny and a deer.

Buy it: $20,

Image: Courtesy Educational Insights

Design & Drill Bolt Buddies Fire Truck from Educational Insights

Ages: 3 to 7 years

Kids can use the kid-friendly power drill to attach wheels onto the firetruck using the colorful bolts, then role-play with the firefighter and dalmatian figurines. Don’t throw the box away because it unfolds to transform into a playset to go along with the truck, becoming part of the sustainable playtime experience and creating less waste.

Buy it: $40,

Image: Courtesy TWEE

Sidewalk Chalk from TWEE

Ages: 3 years and older

This colorful sidewalk chalk looks almost too good to play with and is available in food themes, including a cheeseburger slider and rainbow fries, doughnuts, macarons, and sushi. The chalk is meant for outdoor use on gritty surfaces, such as sidewalks, asphalt, and concrete. The glitter is biodegradable and all of the paint and coloring used are nontoxic. TWEE packages its products in fully biodegradable and recyclable packaging, including plant-based film for the clear windows instead of petroleum-based plastic.

Buy it: From $12,

Image: Courtesy WowWee

Pop 2 Play from WowWee

Ages: 2 years and older

Parents can assemble these pop-up playsets in minutes by unfolding and popping the cardboard pieces into place for an instant slide, race car, kitchen, or nursery that kids can interact with. Instead of plastic, these playsets are made from a durable, recyclable, StrongFold cardboard material that can hold up to 50 pounds. They also fold flat when kids are done playing for easy storage in a closet, under a bed, or behind a couch.

Buy it: $30,

Image: Courtesy Crazy Aaron's

Land of Dough from Crazy Aaron’s

Ages: 3 years and older

This colorful compound collection is made from all-natural ingredients, such as organic wheat flour, plant-based colors, and compostable glitter. Each container of dough features a signature scent created from organic chamomile, lemongrass, and lavender essential oils. The dough is available in fun designs, such as Planet Earth, Space Galaxy, and Fancy Flamingo, and the website lists what each of its products will look like after being played with for a while so customers will know what the compounds look like after it all gets mixed together.

Buy it: From $12,

Image: Courtesy Adventerra Games

Ecologic Puzzles from Adventerra Games

Ages: 2 years and older

These puzzle sets feature 12 mini-puzzles and are available in Saving Water and Respect the Earth designs. The Saving Water set features marine animals to teach toddlers how to conserve water and the Respect the Earth set features cartoon characters that model examples of habits to incorporate into daily life to better protect the planet. Adventerra Games uses environmentally friendly raw materials (both recycled and recyclable); sustainable, wooden pieces instead of plastic; and biodegradable film made from sugar cane.

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