Since 1970, Earth Day has served as a yearly reminder of how every human can do better for our planet. In the beginning, 20 million people took to the streets to celebrate and the efforts resulted in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and landmarks such as the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. This year, the Earth Day 50th anniversary celebration will largely be held virtually as families spend time at home to stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme for Earth Day 2020 is “Climate Action,” and it arrives just as toymakers are reimagining their businesses to be more sustainable, less wasteful, and smaller in carbon footprint.
We’ve compiled a full list of resources that highlights some of this year’s Earth Day events, along with new and recent toys and games that are eco-friendly and/or sustainable, along with thought starters, activities, and fun viewing options that families can use to celebrate Earth Day every day!
Official Earth Day 50th Anniversary Digital Events:
- Earth Day 50 Live will stream live on April 22 with appearances by Zac Efron, Al Gore, and many more.
- We Don’t Have Time Climate Conference is the largest online climate conference ever held. Speakers include key representatives of business; the United Nations; governments; academia and scientific think-tanks; entrepreneurs; social media platforms; artists; campaigners; and civil society.
Toys, Products, and Initiatives Crafted with the Planet in Mind:
- Adventerra Games produces educational games with environmental themes such as Recycle Rally, Global Warming, Powerhaus, and Watergame. Learn more here.
- Aurora released a new line of plush based on Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.
- Blue Orange Games Planet, a game in which players can assemble a 3D globe in the palm of their hands.
- Crazy Aaron‘s Land of Dough is a colorful new line of play dough that’s made with the environment — and glitter — in mind. It’s made with sustainable packaging and glitter; bright, plant-based colors; and organic essential oils. It’s available in 15 different colorful designs ranging from Dinosaur to Mermaid Lagoon. Each variety comes with a signature scent of blended organic chamomile, lemongrass, and lavender to envoke a calm feeling.
- Educational Insights‘ Design & Drill Bolt Buddies collection expands upon the simple construction sets of the Design & Drill line with new vehicles and characters that come packed in a box that becomes a small playset. More play, without the waste! Additionally, the new Design & Drill STEM Garden set adds some flowery fun to the construction play.
- Green Toys will release three new additions to its line of toys that are free of BPA, phthalates, and PVC. The Cargo Plane, Fire Plane, and Shape Sorter Truck will be available soon.
- Hasbro began phasing out plastic in its product packaging and expanded its recycling program with TerraCycle.
- Headstart International introduced Resoftables. Each 14-inch plush toy in the Resoftables line is created using 100% recycled materials equivalent to approximately 11 plastic bottles. Within the next year, Headstart says it will repurpose more than 1 million plastic bottles in an effort to combat some of the 275 million tons of plastic waste generated by consumers globally each year.
- LEGO Group runs on 100% renewable energy and continues to make progress toward its goal of using completely sustainable materials in its packaging by 2025 — and its products by 2030. The company introduced its first bio-based bricks last year.
- Lemonade Pursuits‘ new line of jigsaw puzzles is made from 100% sustainable materials.
- Le Toy Van produces heirloom-quality, sustainable rubberwood toys using materials sources from company-owned forests in Indonesia. The company relaunched in the U.S. market last fall.
- Little Tikes‘ Go Green Collection (pictured above) of toys is made from recycled plastic and the packaging is made of recycled materials to reduce the impact on the planet. Made in Ohio, the new toy lineup launches on Earth Day and includes the Cozy Truck with Trailer, Jr. Play Slide, Cozy Tractor, and Toy Chest.
- Luke’s Toy Factory introduced two new additions to its sustainable collection of sustainable toy vehicles: Hybrids and Naturals. The Naturals collection includes coconut shells, flax fiber, rice hulls, and walnut shells in its mixture, while the Hybrids mixes the bright colors of the Classics collection with various fibers from the Naturals line. See them all here.
- Mattel plans to use 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastics materials in both its products and packaging by 2030. The company is launching new versions of the iconic Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack and Baby’s First Blocks made completely from sugarcane-based plastics and packaged in 100% recycled or sustainably sourced material. More products were shown at Toy Fair New York and will hit stores this year.
- Mega Bloks First Builders Plant-Based Blocks is one of the first new product lines to reflect a major change in a popular existing toy brand. The chunky blocks are derived from bio-based resins and come in Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified packaging that is fully recyclable. Additionally, select Mega products can now be recycled via TerraCycle.
- MGA Entertainment expanded its L.O.L. Surprise recycling program with TerraCycle and created a sustainable L.O.L. Surprise! ball.
- Mickey & Co. relaunched as a modern update to Disney’s 1984 clothing line. The apparel is crafted from 50% Repreve brand fabric which is made from recycled water bottles — some of which are collected from Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. You can find Mickey & Co. at Disney Store and shopDisney.com.
- Munchkin is inviting families to enter its Helping Hands Art Contest. For each entry, Munchkin will donate $1 to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). One winner will receive $300 dollars in prizes and five others will be randomly selected to receive a two-pack of Munchkin’s Miracle 360° WildLove sippy cups.
- PlayMonster has launched a My Fairy Garden contest that encourages kids to create magical fairy gardens in their own yards using materials found at home. The company will award two lucky winners a $50 Target gift card. Kids (with parents’ permission) can create a fairy home in their yard, then post a photo of the project and description tagging @PlayMonsterFun with the hashtag #MyFairyGarden. Click here for contest rules, dates, and details.
- Precious Moments’ Precious Earth collection is an eco-conscious range of infant and toddler products featuring functional, eco-friendly nursery, feeding, and gift options. The entire collection features designs of endangered or threatened animals to highlight the importance of taking care of the planet and its precious creatures.
- Viking Toys introduced Ecoline, a complete range of toys using plastics made of sugar cane.
- Wall•E carried a cautious message about a world that creates too much waste. BoxLunch is offering a limited-edition Wall•E place setting that is manufactured using 75% sustainable bamboo fiber.
- ZURU revealed plans to remove nearly 800 tons of single-use plastic from its Bunch O Balloons line and is committed to transitioning an estimated 13 million plastic polybags to sustainably sourced paper surprise bags across select lines. The move, where applicable to maintain product quality, will take place across its Rainbocorns, 5 Surprise, Smashers and the new Itty Bitty Prettys brands. But that’s not all.
- A Catalog of Crafts for Earth Day Fun: The Toy Insider Parents offer a full round-up of tips for how to upcycle items from around the home while getting kids creative juices flowing.
- Crayola is continuing its yearly tradition of celebrating Earth Day by sharing crafts with families that encourage upcycling, recycling, and teaching kids habits that will help them care for our planet. Here are the new projects for this year.
- Discovery Education launched 50 Ways to Earth Day, a virtual collection of 50 engaging activities that students, educators, and families can do to make a meaningful difference for our planet.
- National Geographic is hosting #NatGeoEarthDayatHome by encouraging kids to go on a (supervised) Neighborhood Safari.
- Weinberg/Newton Gallery is kicking off its virtual stay-at-home programming series with a Terrarium Building Workshop taught by social worker and avid gardener Brendan Yukins. Two short video guides and an accompanying instruction sheet will be available to view and download at weinbergnewtongallery.com.
- Disney+ is celebrating Earth Month with two new DisneyNature films. The new documentary Elephant, narrated by Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and the Natalie Portman-emceed Dolphin Reef documentary are part of the streaming service’s Earth Day-themed programming collection that also includes other titles from National Geographic and DisneyNature, including last year’s Penguins, In the Footsteps of Elephant, A Life on the Edge, and Diving with Dolphins.
- Disney Junior is encouraging kids to honor Earth Day with themed episodes of the popular series Mira, Royal Detective, Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures, T.O.T.S., Muppet Babies, and Puppy Dog Pals. The channel is also airing messages designed to introduce preschoolers to Earth Day themes of taking care of animals and the world around them.
- Kabillion and Kabillion Girls Rule! are celebrating Earth Day all month with new themed episodes of kids’ shows Sonic X, Transformers, Bobby’s World, Chloe’s Closet, and LEGO Friends. The featured episodes will help teach and inspire kids to do their part to protect the planet.
- PBS KIDS debuted an Earth Day-themed programming lineup including new episodes of Cyberchase, Molly of Denali, Nature Cat, and Wild Kratts.
- Sense, a home energy company, has compiled a guide for how to introduce Earth Day to kids.
- TurfMutt Foundation is offering tips for kids and families to de-stress during uncertain times and has lesson plans available through Scholastic that offer ways to celebrate “The REALLY Great Outdoors.”
Food for Thought:
- Mattel’s Hot Wheels could be considered to be “the original no-emissions vehicles,” and now they’ve come full circle. In addition to collaborating with Tesla on toy versions of Elon Musk’s famous electric cars, it turns out that the 1:64-scale die-cast Hot Wheels Tesla Model S informed the manufacturing of the Tesla Model Y. On the latest episode of the Third Row Tesla podcast, Musk explains how looking at the single casting of the toy made Tesla reconsider the construction of their real-life vehicles.
- Packaging for the Planet: The Toy Book takes a look at the recent advances in packaging that are rethinking how toys are sold with eliminating waste in mind.
- Play for Today, Play for Tomorrow: The Shift Toward Eco-Friendly Toys and Sustainable Production: The Toy Book explores the rapid movement toward reimagining the toy industry for a sustainable future.
With so many families staying home together, this year’s Earth Day is a bit different. If you’re looking for fun and educational resources and activities to stay busy, the Toy Insider has you covered!