*This post originally appeared on The PediaBlog on December 2, 2021.
Paper, Not Plastic
Looking for a great holiday gift for that special young person in your life? Parents magazine has some ideas the “Best Toys of 2021 for Big Kids”:
Children in kindergarten and elementary school start thinking more deeply, and these 16 toys reflect that. Building toys get more elaborate, science kits illuminate concepts they’re learning in school, and games start to involve real strategy and literacy skills.
It’s worse than a shame to see that so many children’s toys and kids’ products are still made of plastic — a material derived from climate-changing fossil fuels. The only gift mentioned in the article that appeared to be devoid of plastic was, not surprisingly, the Science4you: Green Science Kit. (The PediaBlog has no opinion of this product and is not endorsing it.)
Plastic has become a ubiquitous material throughout the lifespans of most adults. (Did you know that more than half of all the plastic ever made in the world was made in just the last 15-20 years? It’s a big reason why more than half of all human-generated greenhouse gas emissions have occurred in the last 30 years.) When we decide after 15 seconds or 15 minutes or 15 years that we’re done using the plastic we buy, we throw it “away”, resulting in global pollution that degrades the environment, chokes the life out of streams, rivers, and oceans, and makes people sick. As southwestern Pennsylvania and the rest of the Ohio River Valley is rapidly transformed into the nation’s next petrochemical and plastics manufacturing hub — and likely the country’s next “Cancer Alley” — it is truly disconcerting to know that Pennsylvanians are complicit in accelerating rather than mitigating the damaging local and regional health impacts from fossil fuel pollution, the global climate crisis, and the planetary ecological catastrophe of plastic pollution.
There are other ways adults can please kids this holiday season that don’t involve unhealthy plastic stuff. Jennifer Garry explains why books make better gifts for kids of all ages — for the holidays and all occasions:
When I was a tween, I absolutely loved unwrapping a brand-new book during the holidays. I had an entire week of downtime spread out before me, and I knew I could sink deep into the book’s pages and truly get lost. My ten-year-old daughter is not as fond of reading as I was — but give that girl an activity book, and she will explore every page.
This list of books for tweens is the best of both worlds. There are novels to get lost in, cookbooks and activity books to keep kids busy while teaching them a thing or two, and real-life stories to inspire.
Online searching makes finding books geared for children and teenagers easy, and, except for the credit card to pay for them, plastic-free. Publishers Weekly and Barnes and Noble recently issued their holiday gift guides for children and young adults. Other sites direct gift-givers to age-appropriate books about the environment, nature and climate change. Parents can also find good ideas for books on these topics for their own holiday wish lists here, here, and here.
Read why books make the best holiday gifts here.