The problem with always wanting to make our kids happy is that it often includes buying them anything we can afford (that’s safe), with little regard for details like which toy brands they’re from. We’re more concerned with how our children will play with and learn from their toys than with who made them, right? But the thing is, it is actually quite possible to be as conscientious about your kids’ toy brands as you are about your own food and fashion choices.
We love to vote with our wallets when it comes to supporting Black-owned brands and boycotting companies whose CEOs don’t uphold our own values. It’s such a relief to know that you can do the same with what you buy for your children. It is, after all, their future we’re thinking about when we talk about reducing our harm on the environment or working toward a fair and equal world. After generations in which parents shrugged their shoulders and bought whatever plastic crap their kid saw on TV, we’ve got much better choices today.
Maybe you’re thinking that in order to buy ethically made toys and products from companies that give back, your kids will have to resort to playing with rocks, recycled rags, UNICEF collection boxes, and whatever that hoop-and-stick thing is you see kids playing with in old movies. Not so — though those things can also be fun, probably. What we’ve listed here are the best kids toy brands that already make some of the most well-loved and popular toys on the market. They just also happen to be companies that care about other people, our kids, and the future of our planet.
We’re talking both about giant companies like LEGO, which made a huge commitment to support Black Lives Matter this summer, and about smaller independent mom-and-pop companies like Cuddle+Kind. It’s amazing to think that buying trendy toys like L.O.L. Surprise dolls and STEM-focused kits from Osmo is actually doing more than just indulging your child’s wishes. It could also be helping get masks to first responders or school supplies to struggling teachers.
The thing is, if you’re going to buy a new soccer ball anyway, wouldn’t you love knowing that some of your money is getting another ball to children who have none? When you buy new blocks and stacking toys for your toddler, wouldn’t you like to know it won’t add to a sea of broken plastic and instead helped plant new trees in South America? This is about making your toy dollars multitask. And it’s about telling companies that when they do the right thing, we’re paying attention.
If that’s the case, we can also hope that all of the best toy brands follow suit.
A version of this story was originally published in July 2020.
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