Eco-friendly toys offer safer alternative for kids

April 20, 2010 3:21:06 PM PDT
Many toys have been recalled because of toxic ingredients like lead or cadmium. So how do you know what you're giving your kids is safe? There is one local toy store where everything is green.

And the idea for the store came about when the owner's son used to play in their backyard and create things with the earth and Mother Nature. So at this store, it's very much about back to basics and a repudiation of things that are mass produced.

At Playing Mantis in TriBeCa, Imelda McCain features mostly eco-friendly toys. And before she sells them, she learns about how they're made and by whom.

Adorable handmade dolls with organic fabrics are made by a village of women in Argentina, and making them sustains the villagers way of life. There is a wooden puzzle covered in beeswax oil made by a Hungarian music teacher to support his family.

There are also stacking toys made in Minnesota, stuffed dolls made from recycled sweaters and bears made from donated fur coats. Eco-friendly castles are made from pebbles and sap.

Many items look old fashioned, but modern-day kids like McCain's son, Lucas, love them.

And in this day and age, more and more of the toy industry is offering green options.

Other green options out there in stores include the Wham-O frisbee, today made of recycled wood and reclaimed plastic. There are ImagiPlay yo-yos made from rubberwood trees, HaPe International E-planes from fast-growing, sustainable bamboo, and a PlanToys shopping cart from recycled, non-toxic materials.

There are also dolls made from organic cotton and a playhouse from recycled plastic.

And the more companies that make green toys, the more they become affordable. Many of the items featured above are $25 or less.

For more on Playing Mantis, visit