Buying toys made in the USA is good for the planet, in addition to being good for the American economy. As sustainable toys become more popular, we were pleased to find that many of our favorite American-made toys are also eco-friendly toys. As parents, we’ve always wanted non-toxic toys; but now, many toys made in the USA are also sustainably made toys.
Here is a sampling of American-made toys that we like.
K'Nex is an eco-friendly business that is manufactured in a zero-waste, landfill-free facility in Pennsylvania. K’Nex is still a family favorite. K’Nex is a building set that includes rods of different lengths and a variety of shaped connectors which allow for an infinite number of options. Sets come with some sample building instructions but the opportunities for open-ended creativity are endless.
The sets for younger kids are great for building zoo animals and ocean creatures. They include eyes and other face-friendly pieces. There are sets designed for older kids that feature dinosaurs, helicopters, roller coasters, and many more. The set for engineers includes designs for planes and boats. There are architectural sets for the Golden Gate Bridge and the Empire State Building and other landmarks.
Lincoln Logs are American made toys and were invented in 1916 by John Lloyd Wright, son of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. They are manufactured of maple to the same high standards as you remember.
Lincoln Logs’ wooden parts and pieces are responsibly made in Maine with 70% of the wood coming from Forest Stewardship Council certified forests or other forestry managed timberlands, making it one of the most sustainable wooden toys on the market. They are tested to the strictest quality and safety standards, and the newer sets will fit together with your heirloom sets.
Lincoln logs are great for your budding engineer or architect. They also provide a backdrop for historical storytelling and provide a stable backdrop for character play. This is a unique feature that most toys do not offer.
Bannor Toys makes non-toxic toys that are finished with an organic mix of flaxseed oil and locally grown beeswax. Bannor Toys is a family-owned toy manufacturer in Iowa. Their wood toys are made from responsibly harvested American hardwoods. They use organic paints and finishes that are FDA-approved and non-toxic. They make rattles, puzzles, teething toys, blocks and small grasping toys. They have a fun selection of State Pride rattles that are customizable.
Maple Landmark makes sustainable toys in Vermont and is well-known for its NameTrain series which consists of tracks, scenery, train car sets and landmark bridges. In addition to many actual train bridges (the Brooklyn Bridge and London’s Tower Bridge), they also include some that were not originally built as train bridges (the Golden Gate Bridge and the Hoover Dam bridge). These are handsome additions to a train set.
They have a line of natural wood toys that have no finishes or inks. They advertise that their “good old-fashioned yankee frugality” in addition to modern sustainability concerns has them coming up with all kinds of interesting ways of recycling. They offer their wood scraps as free kindling and local farmers take the free wood shavings for their cattle bedding. They buy most of their hard wood from local, family owned mills who work with responsible loggers.
American made toys by Uncle Goose will feed your longing for nostalgia. This Michigan company creates and sells vintage-inspired wood blocks just like you remember. They’ll even customize a set for you to spell a child’s name.
In addition to traditional alphabet letters, they have the widest selection of educational and eclectic block sets that we’ve seen, including the First Pets (Presidents and their Pets) and the Greek Mythology set. We’re a particular fan of their Women Who Dared set, which features strong women, including a brief bio and quotes.
Uncle Goose makes their toys out of fast-growing American Basswood trees (also known as Linden trees) that grow in the Great Lakes area. These trees are a renewable resource, as they grow fast and are often harvested along with maple and oak, but are not as heavy for young child’s toys. They also make their wood waste available to locals for animal bedding or for home heating.
Your family can be the best eco-friendly toy promoter by doing some things on your own, or with your friends.
Never underestimate the benefit of reusing and recycling on your own. Host a neighborhood toy or book exchange a few times a year. One of our favorite sustainable options for kids is the local Public Library.
When you’d prefer to own some books, remember your local thrift stores. Buying second-hand books gives them a new life. And most thrift stores are set up so that their proceeds will benefit some group in need. The best way to keep the circle going.
However you choose to help the environment, don’t forget to support American made toy manufacturers.