What’s the impact on the environment of having children?
How much waste you do you produce? No, we’re not talking about that, we’re talking about plastic, pollution and greenhouse gasses.
It’s not something we usually keep track of, though there are now great tools to help measure the carbon footprint of what you consume, like this from GIKI.
What anyone with little children in their life will know, is that the amount of household waste goes WAY up compared to your life as a single adult. It turns out kids cost the planet about as much as they cost your pocket.
There’s plenty of studies out there that look at the environmental impact of having more kids. Some measure that the decision to have children impacts CO2 emissions about 6x as much as a life time of driving, flying on long-hual flights, never recycling and generally just living a care-free life in the Western world. Scary numbers!
In truth though, it’s not all doom and gloom as it assumes that these children and their children and all their future generations will carry on living the same sort of emission-rich lifestyle that we do. So there’s a lot to be hopeful about with emissions per person trending down and a lot of policies that aim to reduce emissions to net zero in the coming decades. Children of the future will not waste in the way previous generations have done.
No one should feel guilty about having kids for environmental reasons, in the same way you shouldn’t feel bad about having kids when there are starving people in the world. There’s enough world to go round if we treat it right. So it comes back to one simple truth – how will we treat the planet around us and how will we teach our kids to treat the planet around us?
Renting is the new owning
One exciting new development on this path to more sustainable living is renting. Renting doesn’t have great connotations (for us in London at least). Renting feels like you’re leaving a piece of the pie on the plate. We’ve been taught that renting means someone else is benefiting from what you don’t own.
But increasingly we’re turning to renting as a way to save space, live more freely and not fill our lives with ever increasing amounts of stuff. These guys at FatLlama allow you to ‘rent almost anything.
Renting stuff, not just the place you live, is a great way to reduce the amount of things every person in the world owns. It helps us extract the full value out of things including the value of looking after things longer than we might if we owned it for the short period of time that we typically need things.
Eco friendly toys
Which brings us back to the environmental impact of children. Children’s toys and the speed with which they use and then grow out of or get bored of them is phenomenal. Each stage of development seems to require new toys. Each new birthday and Christmas comes with an invasion of new things that beep and whistle to entertain our kids until the next thing comes along.
That’s not to disparage toys. That our kids have year’s spent playing and learning about the world through their games is a privilege and many toys exist to aid that development brilliantly. Kids love toys, and as parents we love to see their enjoyment. So new toys are always going to be here to stay. But there are some eco-friendly toy choices you can make – even if you’re choosing to own them outright
Our recommendations for the best eco friendly toys
- LovEvery offers toys on subscription in keeping with your child’s development. While not strictly always eco-friendly materials, having a set number of toys that meet your baby’s development milestone is a great way to avoid waste. If you take the pressure of impulsively buying new toys you don’t need, and don’t get toys that are too far below or ahead of your kid’s development, you’ll be saving a lot already.
- For some reason bath time has become the home of plastic toys, but we’re not sure why. Wooden toys are brilliantly eco friendly and adopting plastic-free bath time toys is a great move to reduce the amount of emissions created from kid’s lifestyles. These plastic-free bath toys from Plan and Lanco are great eco-friendly toy substitutes
- Wooden toys might often be seen as traditional, but they’re having something of a resurgence. There are incredible ranges of wooden toys like these that spark imagination, develop fine motor skills or encourage creative play.
Why is it better to hire toys rather than owning them yourself?
Toy rental schemes meet at the intersection of more parents wanting to make eco-friendly choices for their kids and a rising market for all rented stuff. And they’re growing!
Every parent knows that even with an environmentally friendly toy choice, its lifespan in your home is not very long. Kid’s grow up and grow out of toys as fast as clothes and the question remains, what do you do with it next?
If you can afford to, there is a big charitable market for pre-loved toys and clothes, and that’s great. Buying toys doesn’t have to mean it only gets used by your own kids. Most parent’s will do seasonally clear outs of old toys and games and find new owners for them.
But renting toys rather than owning them can extend their life further. A properly rented toy will ensure that you look after it better (it has to be returned), that it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome stuffed down the side of your kid’s bed, and that someone will take are of repairs and cleaning to ensure maximum lifetime.
If you’re renting the toy you’ve got a baked in interest in ensuring you can rent it out to as many families as possible, so you’ll want to ensure it lasts. That means investing in better quality toys that last and better care of toys than they might otherwise get.
Plus the benefit of new toys, more frequently for your kids is a huge plus. It’s all the new toys they could want minus the guilt of constantly getting rid of stuff that you know you’ve not had very long.
Where can I find a toy rental service near me?
Toy rentals have been around a while. Ask your local library and see if they have a toy rental service already in place. Google toy library near me and you’ll get a bunch of responses.
Alternatively, try exploring one of the exceptional toy rental brands below:
- Whirli is a beautiful toy rental subscription that allows you to buy credits for toys (a great gift from uncles, aunts or grandparents if you’re looking for baby or kid’s gift insipiration). The credits translate into toys at different prices – a bit like the ticket system at arcades – that allow you to rent the toys you want. Keep them for as long as you want and then send them back when your little one has tired of them. Or if they love them, you can buy them at a reduced rate. Great value, great for your kids and great for the planet
- Toy box club, set up 5 years ago but now sadly closed, offered toys on a monthly subscription for just £35 a month. The variety was enormous and a brilliant way to keep kids entertained, while avoiding a never ending mountain of plastic building up in your house. We particularly loved their dedicated holiday toy box and the opportunity to rent bigger toys that often take up so much space in small urban flats. They just really seem to get the pain points around owning toys and were solving them. Hopefully we see more of these solutions in the future.