Kids are rampant consumers because we allow them to be; we set the stage for that rampant consumption to become a major feature of their life; an addiction of sorts. We don’t do this consciously, sometimes it’s just clever marketing that tells us what we need to do to be good parents that is responsible.
The amount of toys and junk I see kids with these days is just mind boggling. I’ve seen families where the kids have so much candy, they consciously drop it all over the floor. Dropping candy – never would have happened in my day :). If it was dropped, it was picked up and gobbled up before my mother could say “don’t eat that filthy thing!”
Other families I see taking their kids to fast food joints every week and getting meal deals that include cheap and nasty toys that are used a couple of times and then discarded. Millions and millions and millions of these toys are stashed away and dumped each year – all that plastic, all those resources gone into making them. Toys are so cheap now generally, we buy stacks of them for our kids – while often this behavior comes from a good place but…
… who makes those toys and where do they end up?
Sometimes it’s children who make these things under terrible conditions. Other people’s kids being used and abused so our kids can get their 10 minutes of fun. I was just reading an article in the New York Times about child labor rings – it’s just so tragic and somehow more devastating that some of the toys we buy are made by children who never get to experience the real joy of play. Instead they get to live in shocking conditions and a toxic environment.
I do not buy the excuse that we are helping these people support themselves. I do not lay blame squarely on the Chinese. If it wasn’t China, it would be another country. We are being merchants of misery and death by proxy through our demand for cheap products – and I’m by no means innocent of this myself.
The ironic part of all this is what most kids need is more quality time with their parents, yet the parents are so busy trying to make a living and part of that cash is needed to buy the darned toys. How did we come to this?
Cheap, nasty plastic toys aren’t just an environmental issue, it’s a humanitarian problem. Learn more about green, socially conscious toy giving.