Chances are your house is overflowing with toys — under the couch, in your bedroom, and even in the fridge (yes, we found a tractor there this past week). So the next time you think of adding to your kids’ massive toy collection, why not buy a toy with some serious replay value — we’re not just talking about how often your kids will play with them either. We have to tip our hat to eco-conscious toy manufacturers who created these awesome toys out of unlikely materials like newspaper, plastic, and cardboard. Many of these toys are made from 100% recycled materials, and can even be recycled again when they start to break down. We’ve rounded up a few picks that we think would be big hits for Earth Day-inspired play time. You’ll feel good that your kids are having fun while helping the environment.

Recycled Cardboard Zoo
What animal loving kid wouldn’t get a kick out of creating their very own zoo? This set contains over 100 pieces for budding zoologists to color, stick, and build–everything from the animals to the entrance arch. The set even comes with its own set of markers so you can begin coloring as soon as you open the box (which doubles as a color-in play mat on the inside). $21 on Amazon.


Recycling Truck
How appropriate to make a recycling truck out of 100% recycled plastic. Measuring over 12 inches long and 7 inches tall, this truck is a far cry from its Matchbox counterparts. Even more fun, the packaging is printed with images of paper, cans, and bottles that you can cut out. Your little recyclers can then sort the cutouts into the appropriate slots built into the side of the truck and dump it all out with the working rear door. $21.95 at Kate’s Caring Gifts.


Indoor Gardening Kit
In keeping with the theme of going green for Earth Day, this mini gardening set is perfect for budding green thumbs. The set comes with three small pots and 3 packs or organic seeds–Teddy Bear Sunflower, Basil, and Zinnia and will sprout just days after planting. This could be the making of your kiddo’s very first garden. $22.99 at Green Toys.


Kinetic Creatures
Now that your little zookeepers have created their animal sanctuary, they’ll need some animals to fill it with. These cardboard creations go way beyond the simple punchout designs that affix together. Once assembled, your elephant, rhino, or giraffe is completely mobile, thanks to a wire hand-crank or a gear kit (sold separately). Designed by a superstar duo comprised of Lucas Ainsworth, an industrial designer, and Alyssa Hamel, a visual arts teacher, these kinetic toys have a major “cool” factor. $39.95-$49.95 on their website.


Playhouse Igloo
You don’t have to be an Arctic explorer to have an igloo. Perfect for backyard adventures, this igloo comes in one of four awesome “flavors” and is made from double-walled corrugated cardboard. What makes this structure even more cool? It folds flat for storage–serious bonus points. And if your kiddo outgrows it, the cardboard is completely recyclable and biodegradable. Pick one up for your explorer-to-be for $84.90 here.


Re-Flyer Frisbee
With a pattern that’s similar to a candy jawbreaker, this frisbee looks cool and flies great. It only weighs 110g, making it significantly less heavy than a standard frisbee. This means it doesn’t pack a sting when it hits little fingers. Although, due to it’s lighter weight, it doesn’t perform as well under very windy conditions. Both the frisbee and the packaging are made from 100% recycled plastic and cardboard, respectively. $9.78 on Amazon.


Cardboard Dollhouse
In the traditional vein of paper dolls, Creativity for Kids has a fully cardboard dollhouse for those creative kids who want to build their very own dream house. Whether they make a replica of their own home or something that looks like it stepped off the pages of a Dr. Seuss book, your Frank Llyod Wright Jr. will have a blast making an architectural masterpiece. Get it for $26.99 here.


Green Toys Jump Rope
Burning energy and saving energy go hand in hand (literally) with this eco-friendly jump rope set. The rope is 100% cotton rope while the handles are made from recycled plastic. See how high your little jumpers can count as they work on their crisscross and double dutch skills. $10.99 at Green Toys.


Move over LEGOs, there’s a bigger, more life-size building block in town. These colorful bricks are great for constructing buildings, towns, castle walls, you name it. Best of all? Their lightweight cardboard design means no one gets hurt when your little monsters decide to act out their best Godzilla impression and bring their creation toppling to the ground. $64.95 at Sensory Edge.


Household Pets Coloring Set
It’s one part coloring set, one part pop-out toy. Color in the dog, fish, and cat with the washable, non-toxic markers, then pop them out of their recycled cardboard templates and push the interlocking pieces together. The set includes enough pieces to make three stand-up animals, or mix and match the pieces to create a new animal of your kiddo’s invention. $15.99 at Uncommongoods.


Recycled Newspaper Colored Pencils
These clever little colored pencils are made from stacks of old newspapers, giving these art pencils a cool printed effect on the outside. Each set comes with 12 different colored pencils, so artsy kids have plenty of options to color in their Earth Day art projects. $12 at Poketo.


Cardboard Rocket to the Moon
Yet another genius cardboard creation from the team over at Green Rabbit, this pop-up rocket is ready to blast off for your astronaut-in-training’s next mission into the great unknown. Make from sturdy reinforced cardboard, the inside of the rocket is the perfect drawing surface, so hand out those markers and stickers and watch your little one go to town. Then play mission control as they ready their craft for their next space adventure. Find it here for $80.86.


Which of these toys would your little eco-conscious kid love most? 

–Scott Wardell

photo credit: all photos taken from websites listed



Eco Friendly Toys

Eco-Friendly Art Supplies