Teaching Green with this Renewably-Powered Transforming Solar Toy

Want to give your kids a great gift this Christmas that is not only fun, it’s powered by renewable energy? Seems like a perfect combination to me, and thanks to the 6 in1 Solar Robot Kit, it’s actually a very achievable dream, and for a very reasonable price. Education and play in one? Perfect!

The 6 in 1 Solar Robot Kit is actually six toys in one. It comes with 25 parts that can be used interchangeably to transform from one toy to another. It goes from doggie to boat to car to windmill to two types of airplanes by snapping the different parts together, all without screws or tools. Thankfully, it’s also easy to use. It comes with large, easy to understand instructions so you don’t have to spend hours on the floor Christmas morning putting it together. It can even be assembled by older children.

And because it runs on solar energy, it’s a great teaching tool. Remind your kids to “power-up” by placing the toy in a sunny window to get it charged and ready to play with later in the day. Get them to try leaving it in the sun for different lengths of time to test out how much charge it needs to run the various toys, each of which requires different amount of energy: (milliamps required: airboat: 30, windmill: 100, puppy: 50, car: 60, plane: 20, revolving plane: 20).

They’ll learn all about building things while gaining knowledge about powering things renewably. And who knows, your son or daughter may even be inspired to become solar engineers someday.

And think of all the money you’ll save with this energy-free toy—no electricity, no batteries. Now that’s green playing. It’s available through a number of online vendors, including PVPower.com for under $20.

– Lucy goes green

Low-Power Toys: Minimizing Toy Energy Use

Whether I’m shopping for a birthday, a baby shower, or holiday gifts, I’ve recently been thinking about sustainability when it comes to toys. Not only are many toys made poorly so that they break in no time, wasting resources in the process, but a vast majority of them now rely on energy in order to be enjoyable. A no-battery xbox or remote-controlled car would never do (insert sarcasm here)!

Add to that the fact that many energy-hogging toys contain toxic components, like mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), lead, and more. In fact, electronic toys can contain more than 1,000 toxic substances and chemicals. Many toys also contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC), carcinogen as well as phthalates, which can damage kidneys, the liver, lungs, and reproductive systems in people, big and small.

And of course, if they rely on batteries, they create battery waste and cost more money to run! And dead batteries, when they’re thrown into landfills instead of recycled, can leach into the earth or vaporize into the air.

Consequently, I’ve decided to look for battery-free, energy-free toys from now on. Here are some characteristics I’m going to look for when shopping for new toys in the future:

  • Natural wooden toys: A child can have a lot of fun with wooden toys, whether it’s a puzzle, a train set, a miniature kitchen, doll furniture, or blocks. I’ll also be sure to choose those finished with nontoxic paints and stains, as they can contribute to indoor air pollution.
  • PVC-free plastic toys: Apparently you can recognize something made of PVC by looking for the letter “V” in the three-arrow recycling symbol stamped into plastic products. I’ll be avoiding that as much as possible.
  • Organic fabric toys: Dolls, bears, and other cuddly toys are wonderful for girls and boys of all ages, and can be found more and more made of organic cotton, bamboo, hemp, wool, and other eco-friendly fabrics. Ones made with plant-based dyes are even better.

And if I must by a battery-powered toy, I’m going to be stocking up on rechargeable batteries since these create much less toxic waste… and save a ton of money, too!

– Lucy