Are wooden toys more sustainable than plastic toys?

We believe that wooden toys are truly more sustainable than plastic toys, and some of the ways are not so obvious, but they are really important for humanity. It is not just about the fact that wooden toys are more eco-friendly because they are biodegradable. The way they are made affects not only the environment but also the economy and the quality of life. 

We believe that as parents and toy makers we have had enough experience to be able to see deeper into the principal differences. Here we are sharing some of our findings with you:

7 ways in which wooden toys are more sustainable than plastic toys:

Wooden toys  are better for the environment because they are more likely to be preserved and passed on.

Wooden toys are much more often gifted or resold as they are perceived to be more valuable, not only by adults but also by many children. Thus they foster a culture of thoughtful choices and conservation rather than a culture of disposability. The bottom line for the environment is that fewer objects will be produced and dumped into landfills. 

Wooden toys are more durable than plastic toys – in usable and beautiful condition.

Even though we know that wood is biodegradable and we have all learned our lesson that plastic will be polluting the environment for centuries to come, we should be aware of the fact that even when we decide to preserve some plastic toys and store them as properly as we can, they still lose colour and become brittle, so they are of no good use to future generations of kids. I myself saw the difference between the high quality expensive LEGOs and the cheaper alternatives I had kept from my first-born child when I decided to take them out for my younger child.

In comparison, wooden toys can be repaired and even repurposed in ways that preserve and even enhance their aesthetic appeal. They can be sanded, glued, repainted, and if you are not satisfied with the results, you can do these over and over again. The process is simple and non-toxic, and you do not need very special equipment. 

Wooden toys are easily biodegradable 

Even if some wooden toys do end up in the garbage (which is a much rarer case in comparison to plastic toys), it does not take long for them to decompose and turn into food for new trees and other plants. 

It is true that plastic can be recycled and more and more of it is being recycled in some parts of the world. However, it takes only 2-3 recycles before its quality deteriorates, and then it can no longer be used. It ends up not only in landfills but also in the environment, harming living creatures, and it will stay there for centuries to come.

Production of wooden toys is cleaner and simpler

Production processes of wooden and plastic toys are quite different. First, it is complex and not so environmentally friendly to obtain the raw materials from which plastic itself is produced, and then the manufacturing process of the very toys is more complicated, less eco-friendly and more energy consuming than the production of wooden toys.

Wooden toys are produced by humans – real small people like you and me 

As the production of plastic toys is more complicated, it inevitably involves the usage of many expensive machines. Here is why plastic toys are made in factories, and they are usually owned by big companies. 

And how are wooden toys made? Wooden toys can be and have been made for centuries even in ways that do not require electricity. Of course, nowadays, most toy makers make use of electric tools to save time and labour, but many of them start with cheaper tools meant for hobbyists. Here is why more and more solo artisans and small businesses are joining the ranks of wooden toy makers. 

Thus the wooden toy business is more accessible and democratic and much more decentralised in comparison to the plastic toy business. As people who were born and grew up in a totalitarian state with a planned centralised economy, we highly appreciate the opportunities we have nowadays – to start a small business and to be much more economically independent. A free economy with a big number of independent businesses has always offered more flexibility and resilience to societies and more opportunities  and freedom to their citizens. Here is the story of our own tiny wooden toy business.

Wooden toys can be made, remade and maintained at home

More and more parents and grandparents are finding a more affordable way to provide wooden toys for their children and grandchildren. They are not only refurbishing second-hand toys but also making brand new ones. This not only makes it possible for children in these families to play with wooden toys but also teaches the adults useful skills and confidence and fills their time with really meaningful activities, keeping them away from the stress and distraction of electronic devices. Children who grow up in such families pick up useful skills, respect for manual labour and appreciation of hands-on real-world meaningful activities. They also learn patience and sustained focus. If kids are too young to take part in making toys, they may be old enough to take part in their cleaning and maintenance. Here is a useful text we wrote on how to clean and maintain wooden toys

Interaction with wood is good for people’s health

Trees have been around for longer than humans. Our species has always lived with them, and our organisms are naturally better suited to wood than to plastic. To say the least we are calmed down by the presence of wood in our environments. Here is a tiny text we wrote about the effects of wood on human beings