It wont come in time for this years holiday shopping, but its pretty encouraging to see our Congress take a stand against the toxic chemicals in so many plastic kid toys (the same chemicals that have been obsolete in the EU for years). California led the way last year, the first state to ban even trace amounts of the plastic softening chemical in toys thats been proven responsible for reproductive problems in boys and girls. According to the Washington Post, the growing scientific evidence that chewing on a plastic toy that includes a hormone-mimicking phthalate can cause problems was at last convincing enough to spur some legislative change.
President Bush opposed the ban, but as of January 2009 the shelves of Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and Babies R Us will be phthalate-free. According to the Washington Post story: ... House and Senate lawmakers agreed to permanently ban three types of phthalates from children's toys and to outlaw three other phthalates from products pending an extensive study of their health effects in children and pregnant women.
I have an eight-month old daughter and everything goes in her mouth. Ive never figured out the evolutionary purpose behind this, but am constantly replacing paper, wallets, keys and whatever else she swipes with things like wooden spoons and damp facecloths (sounds gross, but its been great for teething).
To keep the girls busy in the tub and kiddie pool I usually give them whatever I can find around the house metal coffee cups, whisks, rolling pins, BPA-free cups and bowls, etc. My mother made a necklace out of wooden thread spools, which seemed beyond the call of grandmotherly duty, but which they love. The name of the game with toys seems to be change it up, and Im always surprised what will occupy them for big chunks of time. Right now Saoirse is trying to stuff the hemp into the pocket of a clean pink polka-dotted cloth diaper. Yesterday she found a collection of DVD's and started organizing them in piles and rows with peculiar focus. She spent an afternoon last week moving soup cans (piled in the dining room for a story Im writing) from the dining room to the living room. You get the idea.
If you want to have a toy tested or to send government officials a letter urging them to introduce different bills or investigate different chemicals, check out HealthyToys.org Take Action Page.
And if you just want to know whats going on, check out the US Consumer Product Safety Commission for general info on the products you buy and wonder about.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.