Plastic-free why?

Avoiding plastic is a very powerful way to support our planet (and care for our kids). Here are 3 reasons why:

1. Avoiding plastic saves a lot of pollution and carbon emissions:
  • Plastic is made from petroleum
  • Extracting petroleum from the ground can be very destructive: fracking, felling forests, oil spills.
  • Then refining and processing it into plastic releases 6kg CO2 per 1kg plastic:
    • This alone is 3/4 of LEGO's carbon footprint;
    • To absorb the CO2 released by the $80 billion of plastic toys made globally each year would take 1 billion trees. As a comparator, in 10 years Ecosia search engine has planted 100 million trees;
    • The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates use of plastic causes 6% of all global CO2 emissions.

2. Natural materials are much safer for children:
  • Some plastics (e.g., PVC) and some chemicals that make them (e.g., phthalates), are toxic and even carcinogenic;
  • A 2017 test by 4 EU countries of 104 Chinese-made toys found illegal levels in over 30%;
  • A 2017 report by ProSafe shows 17 EU and EEA authorities checked 255 toys and 20% failed, with phthalates the most common chemical found. Here's the breakdown:
    • Plastic dolls – of 121 samples, 33 failed;
    • Bath/squeezable toys – of 30 samples, 7 failed;
    • Plastic books – of 34 samples, 0 failed; and
    • Inflatable toys – of 70 samples, 10 failed.
3. Most plastic toys are mixed materials and can't be recycled --> destined for landfill, or incineration (or worse, for our oceans).

So it's clear that in the future, toys like everything else will need to move-on from new plastic. See our other blog posts for more on what, how, and where!
Why is it important to choose plastic-free toys?90% of toys are plasticIt'd take 1 billion trees to absorb the carbon released by producing new plastic toysPVC and phthalates in molded plastic toys are toxic even carcinogenicMost plastic toys are mixed materials so can't be recycled
* Here's how we estimated this:
  • Global toy production is $90 billion (source: Statistica)
  • 90% of new toys are new plastic (source: Plastics Europe, association of plastics manufacturers)
  • Average kg of plastic per $ spent on toys is 0.05, based on a sample from www.amazon.com
  • Producing 1 kg new plastic emits 6 kg CO2:
    • Producing 1 kg of polyethylene (PET or LDPE) requires 2 kg of oil for energy and raw material (see here); and
    • Burning 1 kg of oil creates about 3 kg CO2 (see offline carbon footprint calculator).
    • 2 kg oil * (3 kg CO2 per kg oil) = 6 kg CO2 per kg new plastic
  • 1 tree can absorb 22 kg of CO2 per year (source: Carbonify)
  • $90 billion * 90% * 0.05 kg/$ * 6 / 22 kg = 1.1 billion trees

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