According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, 88 percent of toys imported into the United States in 2016 came from China, slightly down from previous years. According to the Financial Times, that percentage decreased significantly in 2017, down to 82 percent.
While there are many factors that contribute to such statistics, one wonders the reason for the decline. Could the growing awareness of quality and safety concerns of products made in China, along with human rights concerns, have resulted in a shift in consumer demand?
Over the past decade or so, the reasons to avoid products made in China have been piling up, including the use of toxic materials, the neglect of safety standards, the horrific conditions in Chinese factories, and China’s notorious human rights abuses. Many consumers are coming to see that a lower price at the cash register comes at a terrible cost.
In addition to avoiding the negative aspects that come with toys manufactured in China, there are very positive benefits to eliminating China-made items from one’s search. The quality is generally much better. Safety requirements are met and, more typically, exceeded. Just about all companies that are making truly sustainable or environmentally friendly products are, by definition, not manufacturing their products in China.
Upright business practices are more likely to be benefiting those who produce the items you’re buying. What’s more, you find unique items that may not have been heavily marketed in the mainstream but will benefit the growth and development of your child through imaginative play.
With such a large percentage of toys still being imported from China, finding toys that are not made in China can be tedious. Some online retailers, to their credit, have made the job a bit easier.
Here are five online shopping retailers that make finding toys not made in China a breeze, along with some advice about shopping on Amazon.
The best place to start, Fat Brain Toys features an expansive catalog of educationally-minded toys and games. The company has been in business since 2002 and has earned its reputation as a go-to resource for enriching products for kids.
What’s great about Fat Brain Toys website is that the search engine allows you to define the country of origin. On their website, utilize the “gift bot,” which can be found near the top, right-hand corner. From there you can set a number of search parameters including “Not China.”
With that criterion selected, the quantity of choices is impressive. There are items to choose from for every age group and interest.
Search “not made in China,” and you’ll be offered a reliable and extensive list of options that you can filter further as you wish. Oompa caters to younger children, featuring natural toys for imaginative play.
You may be familiar with these company’s catalogs. These sister brands of Plow & Hearth offer many educational and creative toys for kids of all ages. Hearth Song also features children’s clothing.
Entering “Made in USA” in the search bar delivers a variety of choices that can be further pared down.
Formerly The Land of Nod, this Crate & Barrel subsidiary carries enough items made in the USA that they deserve a mention. Search “Made in USA” in the search box to find both toys and home decor items for children’s spaces.
What About Amazon?
If you are going to Amazon it up this year, you can find toys there that are not made in China, but Amazon, unfortunately, doesn’t offer “country of origin” as a search criterion.
The key is to know what brands to look for. Some safe bets are Green Toys, Plan Toys, Roy Toy (Lincoln Logs), American Plastic Toys, Selecta, Bruder, Maple Landmark, Kathe Kruse, and Playmobil. You can feel pretty confident about Haba, most Lego, most Little Tikes, many Step2, some Crayola, some Matchbox, and even some Barbie toys.
For the latter group, try to confirm elsewhere before buying from Amazon.
If you’re looking to give the children in your life wonderful gifts that they’ll treasure and you’ll feel great about giving, seek out products that are not made in China. They’re not as hard to find as you might think. With that as your starting point, you’ll come across high-quality, safe toys that children can enjoy for years and often even pass on to the next generation.