Why is it that so many kids’ toys are made from brightly coloured plastic and flashing lights? Despite our best intentions to buy lovely wooden toys, we’ve all fallen foul of the fact that kids seem to love the lurid plastic variety - even though, if we’re lucky, they might only hold their attention for a few hours.
We were reminded of the fact that so many of these toys are destined for landfill by a recent story about Monopoly’s new ‘Go Green’ edition. This version of the much-loved boardgame is made with 100% recycled paper and FSC certified wood, and it sees players investing in renewable (solar and wind) energy and bike paths rather than the traditional utilities and railway stations.
Is this a good way to teach our kids about sustainability and instil ‘green values’ in the next generation? Or is it a contradiction in terms, being a capitalist game that puts profit-making centre stage?
Interestingly, there were originally two sets of rules for ‘The Landlord’s Game’, which later became Monopoly: the current (capitalist) one, and another, anti-monopolist version in which everyone took a share in the wealth. The latter version was ditched as the game became a commercial hit. But perhaps it might be a better reflection of where we need to be for the future of this planet if we brought back this version, with its values of dualism and working together instead of competing to make as much money as possible for ourselves.
If Green Monopoly isn’t your thing, there are other ways to encourage your kids to ‘play consciously’. Hat tip to our circular economy friends at Whirli, a toy box subscription that gives you a more affordable and sustainable way to keep your kids in playthings. It works by letting you borrow toys for however long you want and then swap them for different ones when the kids fancy a change. By swapping instead of shopping, you’re stopping unwanted toys from ending up in landfill, getting more for your money AND cutting the clutter in your home. It’s a win win!