What do all these stuffed animals have in common? They are all filled with plastic. As if avoiding huge, brightly colored, crappy plastic toys wasn't hard enough, plastic is carefully hidden in nearly every stuffed animal we own too. Besides the fact that most stuffed animals are made of polyester and filled with polyfill, each and every one of these animals pictured also is filled with "plastic pellets" made of pvc, polypropylene or just labeled as "plastic pellets" so unknown.
What do I have against plastic? I won't get too deeply into it, other than saying that I'm anti-plastic for 3 reasons: health, environmental and asthetics.
As far as the health debate, pvc (a few of the animal tags read: "filled with pvc pellets") contains phthalates, which are carcinogenic, cause fertility problems...blah, blah, blah. The European Union banned the use of phthalates in children's toys back in 1999. In the US? Nothing. I mean, just look at the lead recalls...am I really going to trust that toys are safe? I consider the stuffed animals filled with polypropylene to be much safer and wouldn't mind them if it weren't for the remaining two reasons.
Environmental is fairly obvious if you've ever owned a composter, which makes you look at the life cycle of everything you buy in a new way. We have two compost bins and compost our kitchen scraps, yard waste, wood dust, wool, cotton fabric scraps, etc. After 6 months we have a lovely, fertile soil amendment to use in our yard that feeds our plants. Plastic toys? No composting happening there. Do I really want to buy something for my child that he'll play with for only a few months only to chuck it into a landfill where it will sit for over 1000 years? That seems selfish and makes me feel guilty.
On asthetics, I just think traditional plastic children's toys are ugly but that is my personal opinion. They are easy and tempting because they are cheap, but they also look cheap. I'd so much rather buy one quality wooden toy that will last generations than a handful of cheap plastic toys that only have a functional lifecycle of one child and then sit in the landfills for generations.
***PS - I don't buy the justification of "plastic toys aren't bad for the environment because you can recycle them" either. When is the last time you actually recycled a plastic toy? They are so often made of several types of plastics, include paint and other materials that they can not be recycled.
I bought one of these handmade wool teddy bears which is made out of a wool blanket and stuffed with wool and also a stuffed bunny from miYim which is stuffed with organic cotton, although they are made in China. Sigh.