In this tough economy, I think Van Jones (author of the Green Collar Economy) put it best in a recent Newsweek article. He said that we are given these economic stimulus checks, which we then use to stimulate China’s economy (by buying goods made in China). It just doesn’t make sense. I know we all will be pinching pennies more during this holiday, but that can mean spending our dollars wisely, on a few quality made items for the kids that were made in America, (or in the very least Europe where they have high environmental health standards). Buying U.S. made toys keeps your money local, to help our nation’s small businesses in challenging economic times, and help us know exactly how they are keeping our environment and our kids safe.
Here is a list of my favorite online retailers and small businesses. You’ll see that I tried to include a focus on U.S. made toys. Some of these retailers carry toys made in other countries, and all pledge high safety and environmental standards. Many of the businesses I’ve ordered from myself, and believe in their products. Readers, please list your favorites in the comments section!
1. Nova Naturals: Okay, I’m biased. This is Vermont company. But they carrry the most beautiful, creative and engaging natural toys for a wide age range of ages. Just the catalog is a work of art. We have the four elements arches, which are so simple and creative. I love playing with them, and they can become the scene of any imaginative play. They also carry many plastic (and BPA) free teethers for toddlers who need to chomp and chew.
2. North Star Toys: This family makes non-toxic, safe wood toys and is a green, responsible business. The toys are simple, beautiful and encourage creative play. We have the camera (which my 3 year old loves- it helps that her dad is a photographer), and this people mover (which both my one and three year old push around and load and unload the people). The prices are reasonable, too. This the best of all worlds: made in the U.S., a family run, green and responsible business, non-toxic and safe finishes, what could be better?
3. Down to Earth Toys: Over 90 percent of Down to Earth’s toys are made in the U.S. If you want to stick with that, this link is their selection of toys made in the U.S., with non-toxic finishes. You’ll find games and puzzles, imaginative toys, wood toys and active toys. I recently reviewed a cool wooden bath boat from Down to Earth Toys. They also have beautiful play kitchens made in the U.S. The rest of their toys “meet or exceed the established North American and European safety standards” according to their website. They have fabulous customer service, and this is a great family business to support.
4. KidBean: A site full of “Earth-friendly, labor-friendly vegan products for your family”. You’ll find all sort of stuff here, bath and body care, bedding, clothes, diapers, furniture, footwear, toys, maternity and nursing wear and more. Most of the products on the site are made in the U.S., and all of them have been researched heavily for their sourcing, ingredients, labor and trade practices. They share specific information about each product, such as where is was made, and what it is finished with. We have a Honeysuckle Dreams Organic Cotton Nursing Doll that I reviewed last year. You can buy North Star toys at this site, and you can order them completely unfinished. North Star toys normally uses food grade mineral oil for a safer toy finish.
5. Maple Landmark Woodcraft: Yes, another Vermont business! But if you have seen any toys made by Maple Landmark and you’ll know why I selected them. They are 100 percent made in the U.S., and they support local business and sustainable harvesting practices for the wood they use. I particularly like their Schoolhouse Naturals line which has no finish and their Natural Product line which is finished with a whey based product or beeswax/tung oil. These are the safest finishes for both the workers and for our kids.
6. Rosie Hippo: This family run business sources products from around the world, but mostly the U.S. and Europe, with some fair trade items from places like Peru and Kenya, where support for local communities and improving the lives of families is paramount. Their goal is “to find unique products made from unique materials – sustainable wood, organic fabrics, recycled materials – that are made in a way that is kind to the planet and, wherever possible, helps support Fair Trade around the world.” They do have a large selection of toys made in the U.S., thankfully. They also have a great book selection of unique themes that you will not find on Amazon.com!
7. Oompa Toys: This site has a great selection of toys made in the U.S. and in Europe. They also carry plenty of toys made in China, so it is important to do your homework. I’ve found a wealth of information on this site about the country of origin for toys, just visit the link and you will see an extensive list of toy companys and where their products are made. They carry a full line of Haba toys which are made in Germany and are sturdy, non-toxic and super fun.