Best Eco-Friendly Toys and Gifts for 2018

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It is a common misconception that the famous triangle recycling symbol stands for “reduce, reuse, recycle,” but it actually represents the closed loop of recycling.

The first arrow is for collecting recyclables, the second arrow is the manufacturing process of products made from recycled materials and the last arrow represents the consumer buying the product. It is important to support the recycling process from each of these arrows and the holiday season can be one of the best times for that. Choosing gifts that are made of recycled materials or are made in an eco-friendly manner helps support companies that are working to make the planet a better place along with you.

A favorite of mine are Green Toys products. All of their toys are made from recycled plastics, typically milk cartons. They collect, clean, shred and process the plastics and then mix it with food-safe dyes before molding it into toys. This gives the toys bright and appealing colors. Their packaging is 100 percent recycled and recyclable. A big plus to parents is that they don’t use any kind of ties in their packaging so you won’t have to spend 30 minutes just getting the toy out of the box. They make anything from trucks to tea sets.

Though Lego bricks are not made from recycled materials, they are currently working to develop petroleum-free plastics. The bricks they use currently are created in facilities that use 100 percent renewable wind energy. Even though you can’t recycle their bricks, more than half of their packaging is recyclable. You can put the boxes and paper instructions in your curbside bin or the convenience center mixed paper bin and take the plastic bag to a local grocery store that collects plastic film for recycling. From there, the packaging can be turned into book covers, plastic lumber and more.

For jewelry, look to 4ocean for unique bracelets. They are created using recycled plastics. Their plastic is unique, though, because it is plastic that they have collected by cleaning up ocean debris in places like Haiti and Florida. You can also look on for multiple reclaimed or recycled jewelry pieces that you can order. Many of these pieces would allow you to purchase a unique gift and, for added sentimentality, let you choose a material that can have personal meaning. There are multiple pieces made from old guitar strings, wood reclaimed from skateboards or special books.

If you would like to add beauty products to anyone’s stocking, look to brands such as Aveda, Soaper Duper, Lush or MAC. Aveda, which is a popular hair care line, promotes buying recycled because 85 percent of their products are made of 100 percent recycled materials. Soaper Duper, a fun looking line of bath and body products, uses recycled plastics in their packaging and it can also be recycled. With both Lush and MAC there are take-back programs and people can return their empty packages to be recycled and potentially qualify for free makeup as well for a gift that keeps on giving.

For outdoorsy friends, look at some clothing options from Patagonia. This was the first company to use fleece made from recycled plastic bottles. Their products are made now from plastic bottles, manufacturing waste and old Patagonia apparel. When the product eventually wears out, your friend can feel comfortable returning it to Patagonia knowing it will get recycled or repurposed.

No matter who you are gifting to, there are plenty of recycled or eco-friendly options out there. Choose one of the products mentioned or find your own to give them a physical gift along with the gift of peace of mind.