Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Kids' Products in Japan
Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Kids' Products in Japan
It may not surprise you to hear this, but: Children need a lot of things! Even when we try to take a minimalistic approach to the purchase and accumulation of stuff, there's no way around clothing, feeding and entertaining our kids.
For those of us who don't want clutter and also want to be kind to the environment, finding eco-friendly, sustainable children's gear is a must. Luckily, these products are usually a bit pricier than standard goods...so buying less is easier!
It may seem like Japan, a country fond of plastic bags and packaging isn't a great place to find green goods. However, you don't need to look far and wide for organic clothing, sustainable supplies and eco-friendly toys. Some international companies import their goods and there are many made-in-Japan options, as well.
For families looking to get a bit greener, see our suggestions below!
Eco-Friendly Kid's Clothes
Kids need clothes, and they need new ones often. It's not always feasible to spend a lot on something your child will grow out of in a couple of months; organic clothing can be pricey! On the flip side, however, it can hold up better after the wear-and-tear of childhood, making these pieces excellent options for hand-me-downs. Additionally, some shops offer a recycling program — you can bring in your gently used goods for the shop to repurpose.
Here you'll find simple, classic baby gear made of organic cotton. From elastic-free socks to an adorable bunny-shaped rattle, you can cover the basics easily. "Ten-i muhou" translates, according to the brand, to "heaven clothing with no stitching" and aims to provide clothing comfortable enough for sensitive baby skin. They are also supporters of organic cotton grown in Japan (a rarity); many products created every year make use of cotton grown in Miyagi prefecture.
Owa Yurika is a children's clothing brand that centers sustainability in the creation of its clothing. In addition to eco-conscious practices at the design, sourcing and manufacturing stages, the brand offers repairs to help prolong the life of a piece. They also operate a recycling program. Loved but outgrown pieces can be returned for either repurposing, or donation to one of Owa Yurika's charity partners.
You won't find a very large kid's collection here, but you will find some pretty great basic pieces! The baby rompers and kids' tees are all made of organic cotton. Continental Clothing also employs and advocates for fair wage practices, sustainable manufacturing processes and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
Of course, we'd all love for our children to be entirely fulfilled by the free, outdoor playgrounds in our neighborhood, but chances are they want some other stuff to play with once in a while. As they get older, building blocks and crayon sets may pale in comparison to Nintendo Switch and scooters. But while they are young and still learning about the world and creativity, there are a lot of really great, sustainable toys to introduce them to!
This company began making eco-friendly toys nearly 30 years ago, leveraging the waste from rubber tree logging. Today, its product line of building blocks, figurines, playhouses and more (all of them also very cute, as well!) are even more sustainable, as the company has pioneered a manufacturing process that makes use of previously-ignored wood waste.
Technically, there is a whole lot more you can get at Crayonhouse than just toys. Organic cosmetics, foods and clothing are also on offer, making this a great one-stop-shop for many of your family's sustainability wants and needs. But on the toy front, you're also more than covered. There is a sizeable English-language picture book selection, as well as stuffed animals made with organic cotton and wooden blocks.
These crayons are exactly what you'd think they'd be: Crayons made of vegetables (and rice). They're pigmented with natural dyes sourced from veggie and fruit powder — like yams, apples and potatos. The crayons are also a bit thicker than you're average Crayola, making them easy to hold and manipulate for smaller hands.
Not all sustainable and eco-friendly toys need to be made from wood. This innovative collection from Borelund, a company inspired by the toys of Scandinavia, offers the "I'm Green" selection — toy made from sugar-cane-derived bioplastic. From bulldozers to kitchen playsets, there are plenty of creative play options.
Rounding out the wooden block category, this set was designed by an architect! Not only are they great toys to help your child — or you! — express their creativity, but they are also crafted out of Japanese cedar. The architect - Kengo Kuma, credits them with inspiring his designs...which is pretty cool considering he designed the Tokyo 2020 National Stadium!
Sustainable Products and More
We've written before about the many ways your family can lead a more sustainable lifestyle. In addition to those suggestions, we have a few that are a bit more kid-specific.
COVID precautions aside, not all cafes allow you to bring your own bottle in for a cup of coffee or tea. Get some extra mileage from your family's cure, reusable mugs and tumblers by seeking out those places that allow you to forego the shop's dispoable container in favor of your own.
Along these same lines, MyMizu is a great app that alerts you to refill stations around town. It can be tempting to hit up on the many, many vending machines you'll come across while running errands or are out for a walk, but these refill stations are free! And again, they give you an excuse to show off your fancy reusable bottle.
Say goodbye to plastics bags or plastic wrap! These wraps can substitute both in a much more eco-friendly way (plus they look nice!). Made from beeswax, organic jojoba oil and cotton, they are reusable too. You just need to give them a good rinse and let them dry before putting them to work again.
Another place you can pick up numerous eco-friendly and sustainable goods for the whole household, Ecostore also offers a robust selection baby shampoo, body wah and diaper balm. Ecostore products are made from natural, sustainably sourced ingredients and are also cruelty-free and packaged in recycled and recyclable materials.
If you're on the lookout for more sustainable living information, check out CICLO magazine! It doesn't publish new stories frequently, but there is a bunch of existing material that is really helpful in figuring out sustainability for your family.