1. Vegan Football
Fair-trade certified, meaning the manufacturers get a competitive wage, is just one benefit of the balls sold by Fair Trade Sports. Made from synthetic leather comprised of polyester and polyurethane (the company’s working on using materials that don’t require oil), the footballs are animal free. Any profits from the sales after tax go to charities for children. Check out the different styles to see which one is right for your kid to punt, kick around, throw, whatever.
2. Wishbone Bike
Riding a bike is a wonderful, green way to explore and get outside. Wishbone Bikes offer clever, 3-in-1 bicycles for kids aged 1 to 5. The riders start with training wheels, convert into balance bikes, and eventually become big-kid bikes. They’re made with sustainably harvested wood, recycled plastic, and organic cotton, and they’re sent in recycled packaging. One eco-catch: The company’s carbon offsetting makes its work carbon-neutral. Still, these bikes are made overseas, so try to get as much mileage as you can out of yours.
3. Museum Membership
What kid doesn’t love going eye to eye with a T-Rex, like at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History? Or learning what gravity, inertia, and friction feel like, through a simulator at the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford? Surely there’s a similar experience near you. Give the child in your life a membership and you could squelch the museums-are-boring attitude at an early age. To find one nearby, search the phrase “science museum.”
4. Milk-Jug Toys
If you have a kid to shop for, consider something from Green Toys, like its 100 percent recycled plastic dump truck made from old milk containers. With these toys, the company’s founders wanted to “provide consumers with an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional plastic toys while making an effort to improve and preserve the world.” For the budding cook, there’s a chef’s set; for the young host or hostess, a cookware and dining set. Both are made from milk jugs, without BPA, and align with the FDA’s food contact standards.
5. First Field Guide
A good field guide can connect kids with nature in amazing ways. You can encourage kids to learn about their environment and animal neighbors with help from Peterson’s Field Guides for Young Naturalists, with editions on backyard birding and urban animals (ages 9–14). Other options include Dorling Kindersley’s Pockets: Birds (ages 8-plus), Pocket Audubon Backyard Birdwatch (ages 10-plus), and National Geographic’s The Amateur Naturalist (ages 10-plus). Or as bird expert Kenn Kaufman suggests, look for any heavily illustrated, colorful nature book. Your kids will fall in love with birds in no time.