Let's face it: Some holiday toys are junk by January. And what's not junk may still be unhealthy. Considering all toys "safe" just because they're marketed for use by children can be a mistaken assumption. In July 2004, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled all metal toy jewelry sold in vending machines after some was found to contain lead. And then there's polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, which is often labeled non-toxic, but which produces dioxins in the manufacturing process and can contain softening substances like phthalates, considered to be hormone disrupters.
It may be impossible to keep all junk masquerading as toys out of the home at holiday time, but every natural toy—one that's healthy for the environment and for growing bodies—that replaces a "junk-food" version makes a difference. Healthy toys decrease a child's overall exposure to pollutants, create more demand for sustainable products, and reduce the environmental damage caused by pesticides, plastics, and toxic chemicals. What's more, when the natural alternatives happen to be both beautiful and fun, they're less likely to be tossed aside. Here are toys that can endure in your family from one generation to the next—instead of winding up in the local landfill!