5 Sustainable Stocking Stuffers Your Kiddos Will Love

Woman admiring a holiday sticking in the store

The holiday season sure can feel magical with little ones at home. After all, the holidays are all about spending time with those who make your life feel full – especially our children! It's easy to get caught up in making the experience as special as possible for our kiddos. But, when it comes to stocking stuffers, remember that more “stuff” doesn’t necessarily equal more magic.

Even the most intentional of parents can get overwhelmed when preparing for the holidays, and stocking stuffers are often a last-minute grab from the store end cap. We’re here to help you avoid making those last-minute grabs for plastic trinkets and guide you to more environmentally friendly gifts and sustainable holidays for you and your family to enjoy. 

The Problem With Plastic Toys

Plastic toys to avoid when shopping for sustainable stocking stuffersPlastic toys to avoid when shopping for sustainable stocking stuffers

Just about 90% of all toys on the market are made from plastics, making the toy industry the most plastic-intensive industry in the world, per The World Counts. With plastic being the primary material used in so many of our children’s playthings, parents should understand the risks associated with it.

Children’s Health Risks

Plastic materials used in toys typically contain heavy metals – like lead and cadmium – along with other harmful chemicals like phthalates and dioxins, which can affect:

  • Brain development
  • Immunity
  • Thyroid functionality
  • Risk of certain cancers

As a parent, you know that at one point or another, your children’s toys will likely end up in their mouths. After all, it’s just what little ones do! However, toys that are made of plastic and PVC materials run the risk of your little one absorbing these harmful chemicals into their bodies when they chew on their toys. 

Environmental Health Risks

Beyond their impact on children’s health, plastic toys are harmful to Mother Nature’s health, too. Plastics are largely made from non-renewable resources like petroleum and involve energy-intensive processes that emit harmful chemicals and greenhouse gasses. 

Plus, plastic toys can take centuries to decompose, leading to prolonged pollution in landfills and natural ecosystems. As they break down, they create microplastics, tiny particles that infiltrate food chains and water sources, posing risks to wildlife and human health.

Furthermore, the recycling of plastic toys is complicated by their mixed material composition, often including metals, batteries and various types of plastics. Because of this, even “recyclable” plastic toys are often incinerated or dumped in landfills. 

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Benefits of Sustainable Gifting

Think of how much wrapping paper and plastic packaging we throw away during the holidays. For most of us, it’s probably a lot more than we’d like to admit! 

We want to ensure that the gifts we give to our little ones are safer for them and also safer for the Earth. As many sustainable gift options are made from organic, non-toxic and recycled materials, we can reduce carbon emissions, support ethical business practices and reduce our waste when we gift-give sustainably. 

Sustainably-made products are also more likely to live longer in our homes since they aren’t as “trendy” as other gifts can be – making these types of gifts more cost-efficient, too! With fewer replacements from cheaper plastic toys breaking, we can reduce time, money and resources when we choose sustainable gifts. 

5 Eco-friendly Stocking Stuffers Kids

Young girl playing with small wooden toysYoung girl playing with small wooden toys

Those plastic-laiden toys are starting to sound less fun, aren’t they? The good news is that there are sustainable stocking stuffers available that are safer for your children and much better for the Earth, too. 

1. Non-toxic Art Supplies

A gift that keeps on giving! To foster your little one’s creativity, this is the perfect gift for all ages to encourage your little ones to spend their time creatively and also create fun crafts for the whole family to admire (using recycled and recyclable paper, of course). Here’s some inspiration for finding non-toxic art supplies!

2. Card Games

Card games can be a great way to help little ones develop communication skills and fine-motor skills. Unlike other toys that are age-specific and will be cast aside as your kiddo grows, card games are fun at all ages – and a great family bonding activity for a cold, snowy evening. Look for options made with recycled materials to stay eco-friendly!

3. Seed or Garden Kits

Give the gift of nature, and watch it grow with your child! With kid-friendly planting kits, you can nurture a love of nature in your child, and they’re sure to love seeing their plants develop and grow. These plant kits can be an excellent learning opportunity as well.

4. Winter Hats, Gloves and Accessories

There are quite a few brands that create organic, sustainably made winter wear that is perfect for this time of year. And unlike other clothing, winter accessories can be reused for years to come! Remember, when shopping for textiles like hats and gloves (and even mattresses!), look for the GOTS certification so you can trust the item’s organic integrity. 

5. Reusable Water Bottles

With so many days full of play, it’s important for our children to stay hydrated! We especially love Klean Kanteen’s selection of reusable water bottles for littles. Limiting single-use plastics and supporting a brand that is a 1% for the Planet partner is sure to make your little ones and the planet very happy. 

Bonus Ideas for a Greener Holiday

Person sitting cross-legged and working on a scrapbookPerson sitting cross-legged and working on a scrapbook

By using the materials we have readily available in our homes, we can cut back on time and money spent on holiday shopping and reduce our gift-giving waste, too. With a little bit of crafting ability and creativity, we can upcycle items in our home to create gifts that are sure to be cherished for years to come, such as: 

  • Scrapbooks
  • Painted plant pots
  • Paintings or drawings of your favorite memories
  • Hand-written letters (which you can frame!)

And who said gifts had to be material? For even more festive cheer, here are some ideas for your entire family to enjoy this holiday season:

  • Home-cooked meals
  • Experiences for the whole family (trip to the local museum, arboretum, etc.)
  • Volunteering as a family
  • Slideshows of your favorite family memories

It can be especially easy this time of year to feel pressured to give more gifts. But being mindful of overconsumption and choosing sustainably-made gifts is often safer for your children, reduces your impact on the environment, and even costs less time and money. It’s important for us to remember that the magic of the holidays aren’t found in the gifts we give, but in the love, joy and lasting memories that we make!

Looking for more ways to shop sustainably this holiday season? Start here.

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