Stuffed animals are often a child’s first toy. They’re soft, comforting, and safe — something a parent can feel good about placing in their kid’s crib.
But the materials that make up plush toys can pose problems. Depending on how and where they’re made, they might contain pesticides, harsh dyes, or ingredients that will irritate asthma. That’s why some toy companies are investing in organic cotton for their stuffed animals.
To become certified organic, companies must meet certain production standards with their raw materials. These standards include restrictions on chemical input, as well as requirements on ethical working conditions. It’s a way to make sure the stuffed animal in your child’s hand was made responsibly, and it’s a practice championed by the following companies. You can find organic plush dogs, badgers, and even unicorns on their websites — all made with safe and sustainable cotton.
Bears for Humanity
Bears for Humanity makes fuzzy, hand-sewn “sherpa” bears with 100 percent Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton right in the United States. The socially conscious company is the brainchild of Renju Prathap, who founded Bears for Humanity with her husband Vijay after giving birth to twins. The couple donates one organic teddy bear with every purchase, working with children’s hospitals and charities to make sure the toy goes to a kid in need. They also employ people in their own community, hiring local mothers through the CalWORKS program. As for the product, the bears come in four different sizes and colors, but if your child is more into penguins and dinosaurs, they have those, too.
Under the Nile
The plush cats and crescent moons in Under the Nile’s line of toys all contain GOTS-certified organic Egyptian cotton. That cotton is grown on a biodynamic farm and then molded into stuffed animals at a Fair Trade certified facility in Egypt, where the workforce is 30 percent women. Under the Nile promises you’ll find no BPA, PVC, formaldehyde, flame retardants, fragrance, or lead in any of its products, which retail for $5 to $69.
Elly Lu Organics
This family business offers a range of aquatic, land-loving, and mythical creatures. Norman the Narwhal teaches kids about Arctic animals, while Gemma the Giraffe introduces them to African wildlife. But all of them are made with the same eco-friendly materials: GOTS-certified organic cotton and dyes, organic buckwheat hulls, and, in some cases, a hypoallergenic polyfill generated from recycled plastic bottles. The plush toys are also associated with charities, with $1 of their purchase going to a relevant organization — often a conservation group supporting the real-life version of the stuffed animal. But the philanthropy even applies to the make-believe creatures. Proceeds from the “magical” line of unicorns and mermaids support communities in need of clean drinking water, through the humanitarian group World Vision.
Looking for a bunny in purple dress? How about a lion that’s also a professor? Apple Park has all of these animals and more in its line of eco-friendly stuffed animals. Apple Park uses organic cottons and corn fibers, as well as natural silk and recycled plastic, to create its non-toxic toys. The organic materials all come with GOTS or Organic Content Standard (OCS) certification, and the company also uses low-impact dyes devoid of harsh chemicals. Even the packaging features recycled paper printed with soy ink, illustrating Apple Park’s eco-conscious ethos from start to finish.