Living with Less Plastic and Gifts for Kids which are Fun, Sustainable, and Available Online.

Lion’s Hat Gallop Hobbyhorses and more

I’m always on the look out for affordable gifts for children’s birthday parties.

I plan to be as organised as other parents/caregivers/lovegivers and have a treasure chest with presents that i can whip out, wrap in an children’s painting, accompanied by a kids-made-at-home card and shipped off with the child who’s jumping up and down in one spot clapping hands and grinning in anticipation of the unbridled sugar and colour about to happen round someone else’s party food table.

I have been peacefully protesting against plastic gifts given to our family since our young ones were born into our beautiful life-supporting planet. I have written facebook posts pointing out to connected friends and family that plastic could become something we ask families if they ‘consume’, rather than automatically giving it to them. We’ve got into the habit of asking the adult with the child, “Can they have a sweetie?”, or “Do they eat gluten?”, or “Are they allergic to anything?”.

I’d like to see this rolled out to, “Does your family accept plastic?”

This includes: Lego, Felt-tips, Plastic cars, Barbie Dolls, Polyester Clothing, Polystyrene Boogie Boards, Plastic and Polyester ‘Soft Toys’…

I’m going to sound like a hypocrite (cos actually i am one, and i own a philosophy book which asks is there even anything ‘wrong’ with being a hypocrite after all) but i’ll sound double-standards cos i mention barbie doll clothes below. My point is we should ask people before assuming they ‘condone’ plastic and/or allow them to choose how much or what sort of plastic they wish to ‘invite the use of’ in their family. For example i have a relatively large ‘plastics’ draw of re-usable plastic (so i don’t use glad-wrap). I am more-at-ease with multi-use plastic than single-use plastic. But i’d like to scrap it entirely (a little more challenging with children). For example we have glass jars i send as a container for pasta or popcorn for school lunches but one came home broken into dangerous pieces within a 6 year old’s school bag which gave me horror images of what could have gone wrong with this scenario after one little daughter obviously put her bag down on concrete a little fast or hard.

I’m about to learn more when the Rubbish Trip tour to Tauranga in August for their warm-up the little YOGA festival event at the Scout Hall within May Street Reserve.

Our particular family (or should i say husband and i) actually don’t want anymore stuff.

We live in a small house.

We’ve watched The Minimalist Movie:

Stuff is stressful.
We are meeting stress levels pragmatically.
How can we live a simple, slow, calm life?
One way is by giving ‘stuff’ up.
Whether it’s reducing our FOMO and saying yes to less.
Whether it’s adopting these clutter-clearing habits and ‘letting go’ of ‘things’.
Trusting the universe will provide.

We value experience.
Our love languages are quality time as opposed to gifts (things).
We’re conscious of wanting to support death.
The sense that as we ‘decay’ so too should be the ‘things’ we have used in our lifetime.
The process of physically ‘disappearing’ is important to us.

There are many helpful movements, books, projects, practises, groups, organisations which can can help this here’s a handful which come to mind:
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo,
The Cull – Reuse Recycle Minimise,
Buy Nothing New Month,
Clothes Swap parties,
Toy Libraries,
Trade me.

And a few Bay of Plenty (of good times) local initiatives:
Tauranga’s local Men’s Shed within Historic Village as UNO Magazine featured here,
and as i have been crafting this blog i received an invitation to ‘like’ local sensation Sisters’ & Co and their Sisters Swap Store. 

Neighbourly is another great set-up to encourage people to reach-out, connect and share resources (human and otherwise) in their ‘village’.

Someone suggested a Musical Instrument Library would be epic too.

Alongside the buying less movement sharing  (re-homing) more, there’s the up-cycling, mending movement.

Such as in Sweden the way people are being paid to mend things. Click here for the story:

Or the libraries for tools, and kitchen ‘aids’, so folks are renting rather than owning their ‘objects.’ Click here for The Guardian’s story in the ‘Library of Things.’

But if you do wish to give a gift that will last, is beautiful to touch, and will encourage free play and open- learning…

Here these are a view of my favourite things:

Grimm’s Geo Blocks

Grimms’ Coloured Rainbow Geo Blocks (30 pieces) $57.50 Epiphany Toys (online and in Tauranga)

See Play Do – A Kids Handbook for Everyday Creative Fun $25 by Louise Cuckow Books A Plenty, Tauranga

Doll clothes (including Barbie-sized-dolls) for under $5 at Purple Patch Grey Street Tauranga

Clay Bird Water Whistle $6.50 Epiphany Toys

A selection of wooden musical instruments bought separately e.g. Wooden Train Whistle or a Kazoo under $10 Epiphany Toys

Short (and Wide) Wooden Knitting Needles $5-$7 Epiphany Toys

GOKI French Knitter $14 Epiphany Toys

d (2)
Capes – Minka on

Lyra Giant Pencil Sets from $18 Epiphany Toys and the Crafty Pukeko (open to the Public During School Term 2pm-4pm) at the Waldorf School Welcome Bay Tauranga

‘Oi Frog’ a children’s book by Kes Gray & Jim Field $20 from Books A Plenty, Tauranga

Metal watering can $27 Epiphany Toys

Packet of Koana Gardens’ Heritage seeds $4.50 Wild Earth Organics

Cape $50-$60 Gallop Hobbyhorses and more

Hoopla (a backyard throwing looped ropes game) $49 from Little Trooper

Lion’s Hat $50-$60 Gallop Hobbyhorses and more

Masks – Ethan and Sam’s Room on

Felt masks $24 Ethan and Sam’s Room on

Satin Superhero Capes $40 Minka on

100 Paper Planes to fold & fly (a book) $16.99 Paper Plus

Green Eggs and Ham Dr Seuss Audio Book $13.67 Book Depository

Makala Ukulele $57.50 Music Planet 507 Maunganui Rd and online

Children’s beginner Percussion Kit (Staggs) $59.95 Music Planet 507 Maunganui Rd and online

Tyre Swing $198 Swings & Things

I’ve included a range of prices here, recognising some will be wanting to buy a small gift for a kids’ party, others (such as grandparents) may stumble across this and want plastic-free  or plastic-conscious inspiration..

I’ll finish up by sharing two things. A dear friend Claire Baker once suggested friends’ could bring some cans of food (as a birthday party gift) to give to the Food Bank. Through this process i ‘let’ the kids choose a few things each from the supermarket. We got to talk about the monetary cost of each item. We got to look at the ingredients in ‘it’. We got to talk about the packaging. We got to think about sometimes food versus anytime food, with a balance of wanting to give a balance of both for it was a celebration after all, and sometimes it’s the ‘fun’ stuff that gets ‘cut out’ of a family’s life when there’s not ‘disposable income.’ Claire then took her children down to deliver the food and got to talk about gift giving, and contributing the community and the cost of food and different ‘financial’ situations we can find ourselves in. It’s science that we get pleasure from giving. I’m not wanting to diminish celebration or the act of choosing and giving a gift but i’d like our giving to be mindful rather than an unconscious act. It’s important to consider the ‘true’ cost of a thing also. We may be attracted or convenience of plastic from the many $2 shops etc about. Let us consider it costs us $10 to buy, but what does it cost the earth, our rivers, our air (in the countries that are making these products), our people (living beneath, around this factories).

In our family we love receiving a hand-made heart-given voucher inviting a friend to:

  • Come on the train ride around Memorial Park
  • Visit the Art Gallery and have an ice-cream on the waterfront
  • Go to the Hot Pools
  • Go look at the Christmas Trees on the bus in town

This Autumn as a family we went to Rotorua to the Redwood Forest and biked / ran through the Forest. The laughter, video, replayed JOY that brought to our family has outdone any Tonka Toy from the Warehouse we have been (unhappily and yes ungratefully) given.

Here’s to a habit of people asking before they give plastic…

Written by Emily Marks

Cape – Gallop Hobbyhorses and more


I love reading your comments, kia ora for taking the time to share your thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s