Block to basics.

Photo: iStockphoto

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Keeping up with Ken and Barbie got you down? Check out these companies invested in making eco-friendlier playthings for your little ones. (And read about one mother’s no-crap crusade.)


These soft, handmade toys are created by a women’s knitting collective in Kenya, under the guidance of a nonprofit that helps connect artisans to international markets. All of the items are made with natural wool and colored with vegetable-based dyes, including this zebra hand puppet ($18) and these knit penguins (starting at $18).

Where to buy: Branch


HaPe is a Swiss toy company with global designers and operations. They recently launched the world’s first line of games made from sustainable bamboo, all finished with water-based paint. Check out the dice game with brightly colored caterpillar pieces ($29.95) and the dominoes ($11.99).

Where to buy: HaPe, Mastermind Toys

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Lana Organic

Lana produces soft animal toys made of organic cotton, ranging from pigs to geese to anteaters ($24.99-$54.99).

Where to buy: Oompa Toys

Tumbleweed Woodworks

Artisans from Oregon-based Tumbleweed Woodworks handcraft a series of wooden puzzles with nontoxic materials. Underneath each dino-shaped piece of their Dinosaurs puzzle ($12.50) is the skeleton and name of the creature; the multilayer Endangered Species puzzle ($20) displays animals in their natural habitats.

Where to buy: Tumbleweed Woodworks

Under the Nile

Janice Masoud founded Under the Nile in the late 1990s when she noticed her children suffering allergic reactions to toxin-laden, manufactured clothing. The Milpitas, Calif., company is dedicated to fair-trade practices, and sells a wide variety of children’s apparel and toys (aww, stuffed monkey) made from 100 percent organic Egyptian cotton and metal-free or vegetable dyes.

Where to buy: Under the Nile

A few other resources for healthier fun:

Challenge & Fun
Harvest Moon Boutique
Holgate Toys
Maud N Lil
Melissa & Doug
Peace Toys
Rosie Hippo’s Toys and Games
The Wooden Wagon