If you’re like me and you have young kids, well you probably have become quite familiar with toy shops. Whether they be the mainstream ones in shopping centres or the little boutique ones tucked away in country towns. You may also have noticed the extraordinary price difference between the larger stores bringing out their own brands of wooden toys and actual wooden toy brands such as Grimm’s or I’m Toy.
If you are concerned about the manufacturing, ethics, sustainability and above all, safety behind the toys you buy, well, the cheaper wooden toys would certainly be waving a red flag! As this is a topic I constantly hear whispered about I decided to dig deeper and do a little research into why they are cheaper….and boy oh boy you may just very well never buy that cheap wooden rainbow again!
Inexpensive wooden toys are manufactured from cheap, mass produced MDF and plywood. Both common woods and both bonded together with toxic glues and other adhesive materials, including the toxic chemical Formaldehyde, a known carcinogenic. Top it off with a shiny coating of some toxic paint and voila! You have a toy that is anything but natural and safe! Many of these cheaper toys are made in mass production in poor quality control Chinese factories where quantities reign supreme, regardless of the toxins belching into the air.
Unfortunately, these manufacturers are very clever at making people believe they are purchasing a natural wooden toy. The packaging looks natural with eco friendly cardboard and pictures of trees giving us the impression we are buying a natural toy. They are stacked up on the shelves of trusted mainstream department stores here in Australia so they have to be safe…right?
The ‘real’ wooden toy companies are deeply committed to producing quality safe wooden toys. They choose sustainable wood sources as well as safer water, soy and vegetable based paints, adhesives and coatings. These companies have nothing to hide. Their websites and packaging proudly display the many awards and certificates they have obtained over the years. They do cost more to manufacture and thus the higher shelf price. They are constantly testing for safety and quality and seeking ways to lessen the stress on the environment and our planet.
Some points to remember the next time you are reaching for those attractively packaged cheap wooden toys:
Cheap wooden toys are made from plywood, MDF or chipboard – these woods contain Formaldehyde (poison that your children will be playing with and most probably sucking on). They do declare that the amount of toxin is well within the safe zone but still, would you want your child sucking on any amount of formaldehyde? Some good brands do use plywood but they have passed numerous and rigorous safety standard tests.
The cheaper wooden toys will have no website with safety and environmental standards, no tests to show they have passed safety tests and no certificates or awards.
Study the packaging and read the small print carefully – manufacturers are very good at pointing out what they think you need to know and very deceptive at covering up what they need to hide.
Remember this the next time you stand within earshot of me and whisper to your shopping partner, I know where we can get wooden toys so much cheaper………