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  1. #1
    Expert Forum User bikruca's Avatar
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    Default Article: No More Junk Toys!

    Oh how I wish I had the guts to forward this to mom and MIL...

    I'll subject you all to it instead (ha!)


    http://www.mothering.com/articles/gr...junk_toys.html

    No More Junk Toys: Rethinking Children's Gifts
    By Judith L. Rubin
    Issue 121, Nov/Dec 2003


    One night, not long after Christmas, my pacifist friends Jay Levy and Su Zuniga quietly crept down to the basement with a hammer while their three-year-old daughter, Samantha, slept. There, they methodically banged on the belly of her new mechanical dog until it stopped yapping.
    Another friend's daughter received a Victorian makeup table for her fourth birthday. "It's plastic, it's ugly, and it's huge. It's totally inappropriate for a four year old. Not to mention that my daughter is a tomboy." When asked about the fate of the gift, she replied firmly, "It is going to 'disappear' very soon."
    Some parents are creative in their disposal of "junk toys," as my husband calls them. "The worst toy our daughter ever received," notes one mom, "was a hard-plastic, realistic, talking doll. She purported to be your child's 'best friend' by using a set of pre-recorded diskettes that get inserted into her back. We were saddened to think there might be some lonely children out there for whom this doll might actually be enriching. The doll stands in the center of our peace garden as our scarecrow."
    But approaching friends and family about their gift choices can be awkward. As one friend put it, "I don't want them to think I disapprove of their taste." So the gifts wind up at the Salvation Army or the dump.
    Making gifts "disappear" is a last resort for parents who receive junk toys-i.e., toys out of line with their values or taste. Like junk food, junk toys can be fun but are devoid of nutrition. Buying them requires little forethought. They are excessively commercial, and are often linked to cross-marketing schemes. They excite children at first, but that initial flicker doesn't endure. Also like junk food, junk toys have hidden environmental and social costs for which the consumers pay.
    The issues involved in junk toys are deeper than the layer of clutter on the playroom floor. These issues are as deep as the ocean, where thousands of yellow Lego toy life rafts drifted ashore after three million toy pieces inadvertently spilled from a tanker in 1998.1 But more important than the occasional freak toy-pollution disaster are the routine environmental insults associated with most toy production.
    When we buy a Barbie doll, the relatively low price belies the full cost of her petroleum-intensive plastic manufacturing process, her plastic and paper packaging, and transporting her and her billions of accessories from Southeast Asia to the US . These hidden costs, what economists call "externalities," are paid (or more commonly unpaid) not by individual consumers or corporate producers but by collective society at large. We don't-and probably can't-pay enough for the product and its packaging, shipping, and manufacture to justify the damage caused by these processes.
    The vast majority of plastic commercial toys are made by children themselves, working in overseas sweatshops. Girls as young as 13 years, some working the night shift, stitch Barbie's dresses.2 In Thailand in 1993, hundreds of workers, including child laborers, died in a fire while stuffing Cabbage Patch dolls for Hasbro, Inc.3 The Asia Monitor Resource Center and the Coalition for the Charter on the Safe Production of Toys reported that Vietnamese workers making McDonald's Happy Meals toys for as little as six cents an hour had been poisoned by acetone, a chemical solvent used to manufacture plastic Disney characters such as the 101 Dalmatians line.4 All of this so that I can pull up to the drive-through window and toss my child a Happy Meal figurine? No, thanks.
    (continues at http://www.mothering.com/articles/gr...junk_toys.html )
    Heather.

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  2. #2
    Expert Forum User The Ultimate London Mom!
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    Thanks for posting!
    The poster formerly known as Geomamma

  3. #3
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    I'm working on an email to send my family requesting certain items and asking that they avoid others. Feel like offering me some feedback? I could post it here but remove any identifying words.

    MM
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  4. #4
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    Milky Mama, I'd love to see your letter. I've thought about something like that but don't know how to word it without offending some (I'm already the daughter-in-law from he!!)

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    yes, please post...we are wondering how to "tell" people not to give crap- we are already tripping over things. Sad part is they don't ask what is needed.
    I am absolutely thrilled that Grandma did ask this year, and instead of spending a couple hundred $$ on each, equalling a ton of small un-needed items to trip over, we have actually come up with 2 larger items.
    For this I am thankful....the rest, I need help, as we are still sorting through the mountain DD received for her bday last month.

  6. #6
    Expert Forum User bikruca's Avatar
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    I have tried subtle hints, wishlists from stores with natural toys, strong hints, and outright asking for "no plastic".

    They don't get it... and they are my moms, thus they "know better"
    Heather.

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  7. #7
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    I became the daughter-in-law from Hell (even more so than I was before) last year when I sent out a similar e-mail. I requested that relatives not send presents to our kids but channel the money to a charitable donation instead. The people that this was directed at are sending presents from overseas, they don't know our kids or anything about them (and our kids don't really have any clue who they are either), and in general what they send is either completely inappropriate (tiny little parts for a baby, etc) or it's just not something our kids would be interested in. I thought they would be relieved to have the pressure of trying to buy a present taken away, and I made suggestions of places that would be appropriate to donate to (one child is mad about animals so I suggested WWF; we sponsor a girl in Indonesia so I recommended donating goats to a village, etc.).

    Boy did I ever get it wrong. Within a day I received a reply from most people I had sent the e-mail to and not one of them was positive. I got lectures on all kinds of things- the importance of staying in touch with family, how beneficial it is to a child's development to go out and buy toys for the cousins they've never met (huh?), blah blah blah. In the end they "kind of" paid attention in that they now ask me for suggestions of what to buy, and in most cases I end up buying something and they send me a tag to stick on it, but we still haven't been able to get completely away from the materialism aspect. Oh well, it's still better than the crap we were being sent before, but I am still getting hassled over it with snide little remarks about how "unfair" it is that I don't like them to go out and buy plastic pieces of crap for my kids, etc.

    So my advice - be VERY CAREFUL about what you write!!

  8. #8
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    I think that's partially why I haven't sent it yet. BTW I will not be sending this to my in-laws, they will have the freedom to buy all the crap they want and I'll just re-gift it or donate at a later date if I have to. This letter is intended only for my parents and my siblings. So here is what I wrote and I'd appreciate honest feedback please:

    I was thinking about forwarding this to my family, what do you think? Does it sound pushy or offensive? If there is anything that need to be edited in or out, please let me know.

    ------------------------------

    Since we are doing xmas on the 30th I was thinking it might be nice to have a birthday party for DS on the 29th (early afternoon or early evening). I'm planning on inviting a few others so I need to know. I think everyone is planning on coming down earlier but I just need to know when. That way it's separate from xmas too. Also, I would really prefer that any gifts that anyone wishes to give him be wrapped in birthday paper (or at least not xmas paper) and no "combo" gifts please. He does not need much as we are desperately trying to declutter our home.

    Please keep in mind that we will have a lot of stuff to carry back [we live in NS and this will be in ON] as it is and would prefer gifts be of the non-breakable and smallish nature. If you choose to buy something larger, I'm afraid that we will have no choice to leave it behind and we would rather not do that to DS

    Also, spending money is not really necessary. If you have time to make something for him it would be appreciated! Here are some ideas, though obviously you can buy and do what you choose:

    Sister - Any artwork that is transportation/airplane related. I could get it framed at a later time.

    Little brother - Photography - Again, anything transportation/airplane related. I could get it framed at a later time.

    Big brother - Some dairy-free sorbet/sorbetto would be nice. If you do this, please use as little refined sugar as possible. I will have a small cooler at home that I could bring them back in. He seems to really enjoy fruit types. A handmade wood toy or building blocks would be supper cool but I think your tools are still in storage, right?

    Wood/natural things are preferred to plastic and "made in China" types. He's currently loving airplanes/helicopters/boats, dinosaurs, animals of all types, building, drawing, music, creative/imaginative play, educational type toys and he LOVES to read (think read along types not fairytales)! Oh and for some reason he love stickers but he just likes to stick them all over his body! Crazy kid!

    Mom has a wish list for him if you are stuck trying to find something that includes current sizes in clothing and shoes

    Thank you for your understanding and we are looking forward to seeing everyone at Christmas.
    So? What do you think? I can post the "wish list" I sent to my mom too if that helps.

    MM
    Last edited by MilkyMama; 12-02-2007 at 09:56 PM.
    *sigh*



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  9. #9
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    I'm usually very shy about suggesting things, even when people ask. But now that the girls have sooo much, I'm stressing quality over quantity. This year I have told people what we would like for them because I'd rather not have people waste their money. I don't like when I buy gifts for people that they don't need/want, but are unwilling to tell me. So I figured they'd appreciate my suggestions, knowing that we would make use out of their gifts.

  10. #10
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    MilkyMama, sounds good. I don't think it sounds too pushy. It is direct, but you have given inexpensive ideas so I don't feel it is pushy.

    My parents always ask which is great (for ds birthday last week they got some stuff for his room from Ikea that matches the set, so now we have pictures on the walls), and I asked my brother about getting a helmet for ds to go skating, and he loved the idea (and because it is $50 I told him that would be great as a birthday/Christmas gift since ds is too young to know the difference anways).

    My in-laws though, last year bought ds a learn to walk push toy. Not only had ds been walking for 2 months already (on his own with no toys), but we already had 3 push toys and didn't need or have room for another one.

    Sorry for hi-jacking the post, and thanks for the vent

  11. #11
    Expert Forum User The Ultimate London Mom! mamabear's Avatar
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    Just one issue - it might be a little too late to tell them what not to buy. It's already December, and many people have all their shopping done already. My concern would be in asking them not to buy something that they have already bought. It could be awkward.

    I don't bother to tell people what to buy or what not to buy unless they ask (I wish everyone did!). This is probably why we have a house full of junk. I should probably get more assertive and more organized. Or rent a garbage truck.

  12. #12
    Expert Forum User The Ultimate London Mom!
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    I totally tell people to buy my kids clothes, or tell them what they're "into". I made a strong stance a few years ago about us not needing a lot of "toys" especially since they don't really play with them, and they don't take care of them. Now that we live in a smaller place, the need for "things" is even less, so I stress the clothes and pj's that still gives the kids presents to "open" and are things that will truly be used. People will still buy them a couple of toys (I get the "Well, it's not CHRISTMAS unless the kids get TOYS!" all the time), but it won't be as ridiculous as if I hadn't put a restriction. It's my house, my kids, my rules.

    Oh, and I like to think that people will respect this because I go out of my way to ask people what THEY want/need etc. for christmas/birthdays myself.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamabear View Post
    Just one issue - it might be a little too late to tell them what not to buy. It's already December, and many people have all their shopping done already. My concern would be in asking them not to buy something that they have already bought. It could be awkward.
    Yeah I thought about that but we aren't doing xmas with the family until the 30th so they likely won't be out shopping yet. We tend not to do the early shopping thing

    Maybe I should preface it with... "If you are still trying to decide..."

    MM
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    Breastfeeding Success Essentials:
    SUPPORT ~ EDUCATION ~ DETERMINATION

    Beat the "Booby Traps" to Breastfeeding Success!


    ~The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'~

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    Expert Forum User Tannaleigh's Avatar
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    Hmmm... I guess my family is very lucky. It has always just been known that junk toys are off limits. All gifts are to be educational, imaginative or clothing. Every year my sister tells us what they are more in need of. Like my 5 year old niece just had a huge growth spurt and has out grown all pants. My sister has a pretty extensive childrens library (shes a librarian) and always has a list of 2 books that each child has expressed interest in. Us as "extended" family get all the needs gifts for them and leave the want gifts to the parents. That way they get ONE gift they have been asking for and could be construed as a junk gift. But as the parents, they really know what that perfect gift will be. It really makes it easier on all of us... and especially my sister's house... which has three girls, three dogs, and three horses, they don't have to deal with junk and clutter.
    Yale 4yr old
    Kane 1yr old
    and baby makes 3!!! Errr... 4!


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    Quote Originally Posted by Tannaleigh View Post
    Hmmm... I guess my family is very lucky. It has always just been known that junk toys are off limits. All gifts are to be educational, imaginative or clothing. Every year my sister tells us what they are more in need of. Like my 5 year old niece just had a huge growth spurt and has out grown all pants. My sister has a pretty extensive childrens library (shes a librarian) and always has a list of 2 books that each child has expressed interest in. Us as "extended" family get all the needs gifts for them and leave the want gifts to the parents. That way they get ONE gift they have been asking for and could be construed as a junk gift. But as the parents, they really know what that perfect gift will be. It really makes it easier on all of us... and especially my sister's house... which has three girls, three dogs, and three horses, they don't have to deal with junk and clutter.
    I think I might like to be adopted into this family!

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