Veganism is about a lot more than just eating tasty vegetables; it encompasses an entire lifestyle and outlook. Part of that mindset includes an eco-friendly element.
We worry about not eating animals, making sure animals are properly cared for, and abstaining from merchandise that uses animal products. We are also attentive to maintaining the environment they live in, the foods they eat, and the water they drink.
Buying products that are both vegan and eco-friendly means we all do our part to ensure the health and happiness of animals. Here are some ways to make sound buying decisions when shopping for your little ones’ entertainment.
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Read the Fine Print
Most vegans and green enthusiasts boast loudly about the characteristics of their product. You shouldn’t have to look real hard to find slogans like vegan, non-toxic, and cruelty-free.
However, accept those marketing maneuvers with a grain of salt. There aren’t government regulations for a lot of those phrases. And since businesses are learning they can appeal to the growing population of compassionate individuals, these phrases often get used incorrectly as a marketing ploy. Do your research. Know exactly what you’re buying. Do you trust the company?
After you’ve gotten past the big, bold marketing statements, take a look at the “ingredient” list. Natural toys are the best for your kids and the environment. Find toys that are made from things like sustainably logged solid wood, organic cotton, or bamboo.
Re-Gift Toys When You’re Finished
Living an eco-friendly lifestyle is all about reducing waste. Naturally, you don’t want to throw those toys away when your kids outgrow them. You could sell them at a yard sale, take them to a consignment shop, or donate them to a worthy cause. Those actions will certainly keep the toys out of the landfill.
But what happens if you personally give those toys to someone else? You get the chance to share the story behind them. Use your children’s toys as a way to share the vegan message. Tell a non-vegan why you chose these items for your kids.
Make Your Own Art Supplies
There are tons of articles that share tips for making your own art supplies. If you take the time to mix up the recipes yourself, you know exactly what’s going into them. Look for recipes that are vegan, eco-friendly and non-toxic. Keep your kids and their environment safe!
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Use What You Already Have
Let’s be real. Your kids probably don’t need any more toys. They probably have plenty already. And if you take a careful look at the things you have around the house, you can find tons of additional sources of entertainment.
Hit a homerun. Roll up a pair of socks and play baseball with a wooden spoon in the living room.
Use tape to outline a highway on the floor to drive cars along.
Go bowling. Use things from around the house as pins: wooden blocks, empty toilet paper rolls, action figures. If you don’t have a ball handy, scrunch up some newspaper or roll up some socks.
Play cornhole. Cornhole is a great game for families (most people assume it’s only for adults). To make a kid-friendly, eco-friendly cornhole game set, cut a hole out of a cardboard box. Toss your “bags” at the “board,” aiming for the hole. Most cornhole game players use bags stuffed with corn or beans (super vegan friendly!). You can use balled up socks if you don’t have bean bags at home.
Have kids kneel on a chair, leaning over the back and holding a handful of small items (clothes pins, paper clips, pennies, etc.). Put a plastic container on the floor. Have the kids drop one item at a time, trying to hit the target.
Look for Vegan-Themed Toys
There are lots of toys and games on the market that encourage the vegan lifestyle. Whether they are made sans animal products, weren’t tested on animals, or simply help us spread the message about veganism, there are lots of options for your kids.
Lots of kids enjoy playing with plastic, pretend food. They like emulating their parents and “cooking” tasty meals. You could buy a regular set and manually pick out all the non-vegan items, hoping there is something left for your kid to play with. You’ll also have to worry about the potentially toxic chemicals that went into the toy’s production. Or, you could just buy a vegan-friendly set to begin with! Not only does vegan-friendly play food include just vegetables, it is probably made from natural fibers. For example, check what Under the Nile has to offer.
Crayon Rocks sells vegan, organic crayons. Did you know such a thing existed?! They are made from soybeans.
Kids often end up with their favorite art supply in their mouth. It just happens. If you buy a traditional commercial product, you’ll have to wonder about what your kids are consuming and what went into the art supply’s production. However, there are several vegan options on the market (check what Wee Can Too has to offer). You can actually find finger paints and sidewalk chalk that is edible, plant based, organic, wheat-free, and dairy-free.
Fur and Feathers is a great vegan board game. Kids are reminded of the importance of being kind to animals and making good life choices. They’ll also learn animal facts and purchase cruelty-free foods at restaurants.
Hopscotch makes non-toxic, vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, biodegradable nail polish. Wow, that’s a mouthful!
Read Vegan Books
Here are some great books that will help your child understand the vegan lifestyle.
Flickr Creative Commons, Mr Moss
"V is for Vegan: The ABCs of Being Kind" by Ruby Roth: This book helps young readers (ages three to seven) understand the vegan lifestyle.
"That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things" by Ruby Roth: Among other wonderful things, this book shows animals in their natural environments and contrasts that to the living conditions of factory farms.
"Vegan is Love: Having Heart and Taking Action" by Ruby Roth: This book is intended to show children their daily choices ripple out locally and globally.
"We’re Vegan" by Anna Bean: This book explains the vegan lifestyle to both herbivores and carnivores.
"Steven the Vegan" by Dan Bodenstein: Steven’s experience helps kids explain their vegan lifestyle to others.
"Lena of Vegitopia and the Mystery of the Missing Animals" by Sybil Severin: In this fairy tale, readers follow along as a young girl rescues animals from being eaten. “Magical things can happen when you harness the power of veggies!”
"Dave Loves Chickens" by Carlos Patino: Dave is a Martian—and can’t understand why people of Earth eat animals. This book can help parents teach their kids to be more compassionate towards animals.
A vegan lifestyle goes hand-in-hand with living green. If you’ve been looking for a way to introduce this idea to your kids, start with their toys. What green, vegan toy ideas do you have?
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