What makes kid-friendly products unenvironmental? Plastic. When you have a child, your house becomes more filled with plastic in the form of cups, plates and toys than ever before. It makes sense--your child can throw a plastic toy across the room and it won't break. When your child puts a plastic action figure in his or her mouth, you just rinse it off with soap and water.
But plastic's durability makes it bad for the environment because it takes hundreds of years to biodegrade. Just a fraction of plastic gets recycled, and the rest ends up in a landfill, not going anywhere.
That's what I think of every time I buy my kids Color Wonder markers. My boys, especially James, love these markers and coloring books hands down over regular color books and paper-wrapped crayons. They enjoy watching the colors magically appear on the page when they run the marker over it. "These books have great chemicals," says Ethan. I love them because James can walk around the house with an uncapped Color Wonder marker and not do any damage to himself or the carpeting or walls. Plus, they keep them occupied for hours.
But the markers don't last long, especially when my boys forget to put the caps back on. I hate throwing the markers away, but I can't recycle them, and I don't know of another use for them.
While the only solution to this dilemma is to quit buying Color Wonder markers, I have found a better alternative to another expendable plastic household item--toothbrushes. Recycline Inc., a Waltham, Mass.-based company, (www.recycline.com) manufactures toothbrushes from plastic Stonyfield Farm yogurt cups. When the toothbrush is used up, you can mail it back to Recycline in a postage-paid envelope, and it sends it to another company to be reprocessed into plastic lumber used for picnic tables and decks.
Yesterday I took my kids to Whole Foods and had them pick out their first Preserve brand kid toothbrush. I also bought a Preserve colander, which is made from 100% recycled plastic, and can be recycled at any facility that takes #5 plastics. I hope Recycline does well, and other manufacturers of plastic products follow its example so I can make more guilt-free plastic purchases.