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Are You Buying ETHICAL Toys?

by Tiffany in Natural Toys

Natural Toys

This is a blog for parents and as such we likely buy toys for our children. Dozens of times I have written about toys.. Natural and Safe Dolls, green toys, the best toddler toys, toys with PVC and phthalates, lead in toys, etc. I even wrote about Natural Toys and CPSIA a couple times and how that dangerous legislation could limit our access to the safest toys for our kids.

So color me outraged when I read an article from the Washingtom Examiner about how two major toy companies.. Mattel and Hasbro actually lobbied for this legislation. Why? Well, they would no doubt tell us it is to save our children from the dangers of lead and other unsafe things in toys. But my guess is that they want to put small, ethical toy makers out of business and limit our toy buying options. They know full well that most small toy makers, the same toy makers whose products were already safe, will not be able to absorb the costs associated with legislation like this. The real kicker is that Mattel is the company who kicked off the lead toys scare. THEY were the reckless and irresponsible company that reminded us we need to be careful of what our kids play with when THEY put thousands of lead laced toys on the market.

Another slap in the face for consumers is this piece from the Los Angeles Times. Check this out:

Toy makers, clothing manufacturers and other companies selling products for young children are submitting samples to independent laboratories for safety tests. But the nation’s largest toy maker, Mattel, isn’t being required to do the same.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recently, and quietly, granted Mattel’s request to use its own labs for testing that is required under a law Congress passed last summer after a rash of recalls of toys contaminated by lead. Six of those toys were produced by Mattel Inc. and its Fisher-Price subsidiary.

The whole basis of this legislation was to take the control of toy safety testing out of the hands of the toy makers, since profits could be placed before toy safety. Now we find out that that the company who started all this is getting a free pass? They are immune to this law?!!

According to Mattel they should be treated special because:

It has demonstrated to the product safety agency that its products go through rigorous safety tests. Company spokeswoman Lisa Marie Bongiovanni also said that Mattel has an appropriate “fire wall” in place to ensure test results are protected from corporate influence.

“We have extremely qualified people who work feet away from our production lines,” Bongiovanni said. “It allows us to do more testing than any other toy company out there.”

So says the company that just agreed to pay a $2.3-million civil penalty for violating the lead paint ban. Sounds reasonable… NOT!

There are numerous reasons why we don’t need the over marketed, hyped up, low quality, plastic junk that they sell anyway but this is yet another reason. As consumers we need to send our money to ethical toy companies that REALLY care about the safety of our kids. They need our support now more than ever.

Are you committed to buying quality natural toys from ethical companies? Comment below and tell me what and where you are buying… inquiring minds would like to know.


Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

16 Comments on Are You Buying ETHICAL Toys?

  • Katie and and then there’s the no toy solution and just go out and enjoy nature – the beach, a walk outdoors…

  • Jes

    After all the of the lead scares and then seeing this legislation, I am absolutely avoiding Mattel and the many brands that they own. It’s really amazing how many toy brand they are a part of (fisher price, disney, power wheels, skip-bo and uno – to name a few!). I have been avoiding registering for any of the mainstream toys on the market (for our first, due in Feb) and can hopefully steer people away from giving us things from these companies. Even if we got things from these companies as gifts, I just don’t know if I’d feel safe letting my kids play with them. So sad that it had to come to this.

  • Those of us that are part of the handmade movement are very mad, sad over this. We have worked so hard to understand these laws and get them changed to be doable for the small handmade community.
    Show you support buy shopping on search for NaturalKids, all you holiday needs for your kids will come from loving hands that craft beautiful OOAK items!


  • I don’t think I have ever bought from either company and I am definately not going to do so now!

  • This just makes me sick! This is part of why I started my own web-site business and I have learned so much! (My web-site is For Your Bug-A-Boo). There are many wonderful and safe toys out there now and more and more companies are being created. Let’s keep supporting these great businesses, many of which were created by moms who wanted safer products for their children.
    Here in Seattle, WA we have some wonderful indep. stores that have nothing but the safe toys. These are the places I shop for gifts for the older kids! I love the types of games I can find at these stores too! Much, much more educational and fun too!! I often find ideas at these stores too for my own business! I don’t buy toys or games from the large chain stores.
    Thank you so much for sharing this information about Mattel.

  • I DO!

    That is just ridiculous. Thanks for posting about this. Fisher Price is the reason this whole ball got rolling. Not to mention that the way the law was originally written made it very difficult for smaller, US based cottage toy makers.

  • ps Linked you on FB. :)

  • Shelly

    We do only buy from independents (love Plan Toys) or we buy from thrift stores, but generally items that aren’t considered toys like pots and pans for our “banging wall”.
    How, though, do you get this across to extended family that shops at Walmart and picks up whatever battery operated thing is at eye level? Ds has a b-day coming up and we’ve requested no toys, just books or if they must wooden toys, but they haven’t listened in the past. Any tips would be great!!

  • Angel

    I literally just got back from my local children’s consignment store. I got a bag of toy cars, a board game, a shirt and an awesome wooden step stool for under $20. I supported the mom who owns the store, the mom who sold the item, saved something from a landfill, paid a fraction of what I would pay even in cheapy Walmart, all while getting some neat things to use with my kid. Why would I go anywhere else?

  • Lynn from

    I had no idea about this exemption. I agree, it is ridiculous and I’m glad you wrote this post and really called it like you saw it, Tiffany!

  • Linda

    I like used toys from garage sales, and am looking into baby toys for my new baby on the way. I really like Plan Toys. In my city, I go to the small, independent toy store and buy toys that state they have non-toxic finishes on them. I am also trying my d***est not to buy plastic.

  • Beth

    Thanks for this informative article and to all the commenters who shared links to safe toys. I would like to add the following site:

    None of the toys available for purchase on the site are made in China and the offering of safe, natural toys seems to grow every time I visit the site.

  • It boggles the mind!! Thanks for sharing this!

  • Can Can (Mom Most Traveled)

    I actually just started Christmas shopping (I have to buy gifts for my relatives to give to my kids, long story) and I got several items from a crafty kind of online store called “A Toy Garden” (a wooden catapult, a felt mail set, and a felted bracelet), and I got some things off of etsy (wooden swords and a wooden boat!).
    I also got a swing made by HABA (got it on Amazon).

    I would like to say that since I have worked in Asia, including teaching first grade in China, it makes me really uncomfortable when comments are made about things produced in China. I don’t like using the lead issue as an excuse to be racist. Of course I don’t want my kids to be lead poissoned, but I took them to China for a trip.
    Good things can come out of China as well. I don’t think it is fair to just avoid all Chinese products just because they are from China.

    I do love Plan Toys, they are made in Thailand. But there again since I speak Thai and Lao I would feel really annoyed if there was an anti-Thailand bandwagon.

  • Scarlet Reynolds

    Hi, I came across your blog while I was searching the internet for Toy stores and I found yours instead. Anyway, just want to say that it’s been nice dropping by your blog.