Where to Get Green Toys in Cincy

green toys feature textLast month, Danny Korman took us on an urban walk through several Cincinnati neighborhoods (and then our reporter Selena took her family on one of his walks — and was enthralled by the beauty of an urban, Cincy neighborhood!). Danny’s warm, thoughtful musings make green living appealing and within reach.

Take this month’s feature, for example: toys. Every household has them, but how can you make more eco-friendly choices? This month, Danny’s sharing where to get his favorite green toys in Cincy — including a place where kids can DIY their own recycled toys! Because it’s summer break, toys are fun and play is important! Without further ado, here’s Danny:

Playfulness is part of human DNA — and what better way to bring out this natural instinct than with a fun collection of toys? I still have a few toys from my childhood, including a stuffed Snoopy that is the same age as me, and a bag of German wooden blocks. I’ve lost track of the rest, mostly in an attempt to keep it simple at home.

There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to toys. There are some good toys and plenty of bad ones. It’s overwhelming to figure out which toys are best for little ones, and there’s no reason to drive yourself nuts about it.

When in doubt, it’s usually best to keep this in mind: Buy toys made close to home whenever possible and avoid toys made in sweatshop factories in China, Taiwan and India. This certainly narrows down your options — in the best way possible.

Here are some other tips:

1. The younger your child, the more careful you want to be about buying toys, as these are more likely to end up in a child’s mouth. It’s best to stay away from chemicals altogether. If you have these toys in your possession, consider donating or recycling them. These three local resources can you help you out:

Crayons to Computers in Bond Hill takes donations of usable arts and crafts supplies.

Happen Inc Toy Lab in Northside accepts broken toys — and lets kids construct brand-“new” toys out of recycled parts!

Indigo Hippo (513-918-4917) in Over-the-Rhine is a donation-based art supply store.

2. Regularly check HealthyStuff.org, which researches toys in order to help make parents aware of what’s in their children’s toys. A list of toys tested and their findings is kept current on their website. Be aware that many toys tested are still on the market. Look at Trouble in Toyland too, if you’re extra cautious and want to cross-reference findings.

3. As with anything else, you get what you pay for. If you are buying dollar-store toys, the chances are great that they aren’t safe. These toys are being made with the cheapest materials possible and are almost always made in China. Instead, head to a local store. Park + Vine, for instance, carries two toy companies, Green Toys and PlayToys, that “stand out for their commitment to putting the environment and child safety ahead of cost cutting,” according to GoodGuide.com.

4. Buy toys made close to home. Several toy lines made locally include Happy Groundhog (cute stuffed animals) and Happy Bungalow and Wooden Lion Toy Co., two wooden toy companies. All three lines are available at Park + Vine, other local retailers, and at seasonal vendor markets such as City Flea in Washington Park.

So please, consider buying clean, green and safe toys made close to home!

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 9.26.36 AMDanny Korman is the owner of Park + Vine, the Over-the-Rhine “green general store” that’s won local and national acclaim (most recently racking up six awards in City Beat’s “Best of Cincinnati” issue). Korman was born on the West Side and grew up on the East Side, but his heart belongs to Over the Rhine. He got a degree in urban planning and historic preservation at the University of Cincinnati, and his first full-time job involved community development across the river, in Newport.

Korman moved to New York and then spent nine years in Chicago, before returning home in order to help his community become “its best self.” He is considered an early pioneer of Over-the-Rhine’s most recent resurgence. You can follow Park + Vine on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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