The majority of children's toys have been plastic since the post WWII when
With sustainability as the center of our business, every month is plastic-free at Bootyland. For plastic-free July we want to share what we do to limit the use of plastic and petroleum-based materials in both our product selection and everyday business operations.
Bootyland is often misunderstood as being only for babies and toddlers. It's easy to assume our toys are for children under five when walking past our windows filled with wooden toys, in typical Montessori-Waldorf fashion. But wooden toys are for children (and adults) of all ages! While aesthetics really help to inspire our product selection and displays, sustainability is the reason why the toys in our store are wood- and fabric-based.
As a sustainable store that started with providing organic fiber clothing for little ones, we love to find petroleum-free alternatives to traditionally plastic-made items. From pacifiers to costumes, from school gear to craft supplies, we recognize that plastic as a material has shaped the way toys are made for decades, and we are committed to providing sustainable and non-toxic alternatives.
During a staff chat about the blog post for this week we asked ourselves "Remember those profession playsets we had as kids? The ones that came in the big plastic boxes with the big plastic trays and the little plastic pieces that we would step on and squish all the time?" It's funny to work in a sustainable store because it's so easy to forget that plastic is still the norm when it comes to toy making.
We love that we have been able to provide sustainable alternatives for so many years. Wood has been such a wonderful material to work with, it allows for special manufacturing and beautiful handcrafting, and it's great to know close to every step of the sourcing and production process for our store staples. Our playsets are made of sustainably rubberwood, and we love PlanToys, one of our absolute favorite wholesalers, for constantly keeping us updated about their sourcing process and innovations in the use of this versatile material.
Natural fibers are also a fabulous alternative to have, especially when it comes to costumes. Our long-time favorite has been silk! We love reversible wings and capes by Sarah's Silks, very fun to mix and match with silk crowns and streamers in all colors. And kiddos like to wear them all year round!
Our most recent discoveries in alternative materials have included natural rubber, bamboo, and wheat straw. We love our new bamboo sand tools (and they are shaped like sea creatures!), and while we have carried natural rubber pacifiers for a while, our newest addition of natural rubber toys for bath time has been so successful (though we still love our wooden bath toys). Wheat straw boats have also been very impressive, since they can be composted when their time is up.
We like to keep in mind that using second-hand materials is always a great way to keep plastic out of landfills and slow down plastic production in general. Craft supplies are some of the easiest things to find second-hand, and we have been so excited to carry craft kits from CraftLab Seattle this year, made entirely of recycled and up-cycled materials!
Over the years we have refined the materials we use in our everyday business operations, from supplies to packaging. All the plastic-based supplies we use, such as pens, markers, tape, etc. are purchased second-hand from Seattle Recreative and their non-profit initiative. We ship all of our orders in 100% compostable mailers or boxes we reuse from our wholesalers, who we make sure ship in compostable, recyclable or no packaging.
In spite of our efforts, we have noticed that it remains difficult for the toy-manufacturing industry to completely move away from plastic film packaging, even when it is made of post-consumer recycled material. We have found a great partner in Ridwell to sustainably and safely dispose of thin plastics, and are happy to remove it for those customers who would like to take advantage of our recycling program.