What would Woody and Buzz say if they knew they were polluting the oceans?
The worlds toy industry is massive - last year consumers spent over $9 billion on them and a large proportion of them were plastic and on top of that there’s all the plastic packaging.
If you're a parent, then you'll know how tricky it can be to avoid buying them, whether it's diggers, dolls houses or building bricks. You will also know how much space they take up and how much they hurt when you stand on one.
But environmentalists say this is contributing to the amount of plastic ending up in landfill. So what is the toy industry doing to change this?
Lego's leaves, bushes and trees are already properly green as they are made with plastic sourced from sugarcane. The move is part of the Danish company's pledge to use sustainable materials in its products and packaging by 2030. Toy and game maker Hasbro announced that it plans to phase out plastic packaging on its products by 2022.
While this is all positive news it’s still going to be many years before we have a sustainable toy industry. There are alternatives like wooden puzzles, train sets and farms. But there is not enough to make significant impact on reducing the numbers made of plastic right now.
Recently I took my children to McDonald's (please don't judge me). They both had a Happy Meal fully expecting to get a toy with it. However, they were given a choice of a book or a toy. My daughter who is nine was happy with the book with a little bit of persuasion from me. But my son who is only five wanted a toy. What did he get? A plastic Scooby-Doo of course!
My son was happy enough with his toy and my daughter with her book. But it got me thinking why when McDonald’s have reduced so much of the plastic they use (straws, packaging etc) do they still give an option of a plastic toy?
McDonald’s clearly recognise the need to reduce plastic which can often take time to find a suitable replacement material (we won’t discuss whether the new straws are a suitable replacement) so why not just offer a book and don't give me the choice.
As consumers we can all just make that choice for them and choose the book but that won’t stop them producing the plastic toy in the first place.
Sometimes it’s better to just not give us the choice!
Clearly the toy industry needs to make more effort to reduce its reliance on plastic but if the only way they do this is by consumers not picking Scooby-Doo then so be it.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.