The negative effects of Plastic Toys
The commonly known beginnings of commercial plastics date back to a very short 100 odd years ago, 1907 in fact. Belgian-born American Leo Baekeland is recognised to have initiated the modern era of plastics through the development of Bakelite. This was the beginning of cheap mass-produced polymers that no longer came from plants or animals, but from fossil fuels. Now-familiar plastics such as polystyrene (1929), polyester (1930), polyvinylchloride (1933) or PVC as it's better known, and nylon (1935) emerged quickly and with the glamour of fast success.
By the 1930’s plastics had developed to such an extent that colour played a major role in the development of the industry. The war had the biggest impact though, with plastics appearing in everything from military vehicles to radar insulation. The war saw a boom in petrochemical companies turning as much crude oil into plastic as they could.
Jump forward a few years and the end of the war caused a mass downturn in the production of plastic thus a new way forward was needed…enter stage right the consumer goods market. In 1941 polyethylene terephthalate (PET) was on the scene and had transformed the fast consumable products sector, think soft drink bottles. The production of these plastic products was so cheap and so vast that thousands of new plastic materials have developed and infiltrated just about all aspects of life.
What has this got to do with toys I hear you ask?
When researching this blog, it terrified me that toys are on the list as one the highest percentages of use of plastic on the planet. In developed nations Toys sit behind packaging (30%), building materials (30%) and automobiles (20%). The use of natural products such as wood, leather, stone, metal, glass and ceramic for toys have long gone. The long-held domain of creative artisan made toys is now beholden to the pure success of mass production plastic.
The industrialised advantage of plastic across all worldwide industries now comes at a cost. That great cost to humanity, flora and fauna, is that every single piece of plastic ever created is either sitting in landfill, is on the street as litter or is clogging up ecosystems in either whole piece format such as floating junkyards in our oceans or as micro-particles from simply washing our clothes.
The life and story of plastic will be around for thousands of years without decomposing. As a parent and as a micro-custodian of this land, this earth, this planet I choose not to select plastic. Wherever possible I choose natural organic components in my personal life, my work and my controllable sphere of influence.
When gifting for your loved ones, be it daughters, sons, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, friends or colleagues remember one thing…the gift of natural non toxic products, whilst somewhat short-lived in the essence of time compared to plastic, will have a far reaching longer term positive benefit to this planet than the unrecognisable infinite life of plastic. Give the gift of eco toys.