The entry through the peak of summer means beach days for many people. For parents and guardians with little kids, this also means grabbing toys for the little ones to have fun with. It's almost impossible to visit the beach without seeing varieties of beach toys for outdoor play. They come in bright colors, with each variant specifically designed for a unique purpose. From a sand playset to pails to collect shells, toys for kids are endless.
As you enjoy your Summer days on the beach, you should also consider the environmental impact of these toys. Many beach and sand toys come in cheap plastic material.
Apart from this, many of them contain toxic glue or chemical adhesives that we can choose to avoid. To ensure the safety of your kids as they have fun in the summer sun, and do better for the environment, read on to explore some of the best eco-friendly beach toys.
Related: We also have 12 tips for an eco-friendly summer for more ideas for the beach and sunny days, and don't forget your eco-friendly sunscreen 🙂
And for when on a beach holiday but it's raining, check out our guide to eco-friendly games you can play indoors before browsing our beach quotes to get you in the mood.
Many beach toys and sand toys have a significant environmental impact. Producers often make them cheaply with standard plastic materials that take years to break down in nature. As a result, these plastic toys are far from environmentally friendly as they contribute to pollution. Besides polluting the land, many of these cheap plastic toys also end up in water bodies, which goes on to affect marine life.
Kids’ safety is another area of concern. Regular plastic beach toys also tend to come in plastic that contains harmful compounds like BPAs and phthalates. Many studies have explored the adverse effects of BPA on human health1, such as being an endocrine disruptor. Phthalates, chemicals that manufacturers use to make plastic durable, can affect the functioning of many organs due to chronic exposure2.
To keep kids and the environment safe, eco-friendly and non-toxic beach toys are the way to go. Many brands craft non-plastic beach toys that are free from harmful chemicals, which gives kids room to enjoy their summer fun with their eco-friendly beach toys while staying safe.
Non-toxic beach toys provide the functional benefits of traditional toys without toxic chemicals. Best of all, conscious brands make them last for longer and shun unsustainable packaging.
Here’s your free guide to green toys for summer fun all season long. Our selection of the best green toys for the beach comes in all fun shapes, sizes, and colors while they serve multiple purposes.
Whether you’re looking for eco-friendly beach toy sets, toys for sand play, or water toys, going green is possible. It’s also a fun way to teach children about the environment while keeping them safe from harmful external coatings.
Quick links to our eco-friendly beach toys recommendations:
Material: Bamboo fiber
Bamboo makes up part of the world’s sustainable materials. As a result, products from this material are often a great alternative to synthetics. Rather than going with options like recycled plastic or silicone, the manufacturers of this set chose bamboo. As a result, these non-toxic beach toys stand beside the Simplenice Sand Beach Toys as biodegradable.
This beach or garden set comes in a minimal design. Unlike hard plastic, this product has a softer touch. However, this doesn’t prevent it from being a sturdy toy that can withstand rough play. At the same time, it offers fun colors to support outdoor play.
It might appear too simple compared to some of the other options above. This is because it lacks intricate or visibly unique features. However, it works for parents simply looking for something practical in terms of beach tools.
When you think of beach toys, especially those for sand play, sand buckets will most likely come to mind. In the market, you’ll find various bucket beach toys. However, many of them come in a less durable plastic material liable to breakage.
We’ve explored various options looking for a suitable plastic-free sustainable beach set. In comes this set of eco beach toys. One of the striking unique features of this eco-friendly set is its color palette. Compared to traditional beach sets in bold primary colors, these toys come in a pretty muted palette for a distinct look.
Within each package, you’ll find a range of sandcastle molds. With food-grade silicone, these eco-friendly beach toys feature a sturdy design that won’t break like regular plastics. The soft silicone material of each toy is also ideal for younger children.
This may not be the perfect choice for older children as the molds come in small sizes. Although the sand set comes at a higher price point than regular toys, its non-toxic, BPA-free, and phthalate-free nature makes up for it. In addition, you get a reusable beach bag with the set.
Related: Can you recycle silicone?
Material: Biodegradable straw material
Finding biodegradable beach toys can be difficult in a market full of cheap plastic materials. However, we were on a mission to present this option to conscious parents. One of the main challenges with plastics is their poor biodegradable nature. Rather than breaking down and returning to the earth, they stay on the ground or sea for years. As a result, this contributes greatly to pollution.
These biodegradable beach toys are a reminder that children’s toys can be fun, non-toxic to the environment, and safe. Each set comes with a range of options that the little ones can explore.
Within each package, you’ll find 25 colorful sandbox toys in various molds and shapes. From animal shapes to castles, these non-toxic beach toys provide the variety that children need.
Apart from the biodegradable straw material, each product has a smooth edge to ensure children’s safety. So, not only are they eco-friendly sand toys, but they are also tailored to protect their users. Apart from serving as beach toys, children can also enjoy them as bath toys.
Material: Wheat straw
Sometimes you may be looking to engage your children during bath time. On the other hand, you might just be looking for something that involves cautious water play on the beach in shallow water. This muted boat set is practical, pretty, and perfect for water play. You can stack them, use them separately or line them up in bath water for engagement.
The best part is that they come from biodegradable wheat straw. This material diverts materials from the waste stream, making it an excellent zero-waste option. The muted colors include white, sand, blush, sage, terracotta, and dove blue. The set of bath toys also comes with a lightly speckled appearance that comes from the material.
Material: ABS Plastic
Children can’t avoid sand when enjoying beach days, which usually requires a shovel. Unlike the previous product options tailored to toddlers, this shovel works great for children as old as 7. Also, although it comes in a type of plastic material, ABS is a non-toxic and food-safe variant. Since the product is BPA-free and phthalate-free, it is a safer option for the environment and children.
This option is stronger and more durable than traditional children's shovels, also meaning it will last longer, making it a better eco-choice. Its design also makes it suitable for the intensity of children's play. Apart from beach play, this non-toxic set fits into garden activities. If the little ones want to enjoy some time in the snow as well, the sturdy material makes it easy to work with.
This is another set of sand toys for kids and toddlers. Similar to the Tate + Jane set, this one also comes in silicone material. So, similarly, you can roll up or fold the toys to take them along on the go. At first glance, these two sets seem quite identical. However, the ForeverElla eco-friendly toys take a unique spin on sand molds.
Apart from the pail and mini shovel, the molds take the shapes of fruits. You’ll find shapes of watermelon, cherry, pineapple, and strawberry. This offers an exciting way for toddlers to stay engaged while sculpting delicious-looking fruits in the sand.
Each item comes in thick material, and the bucket feels sturdy. The entire set is BPA-free and safe, making it great for young children. These non-toxic beach toys are portable enough to carry around with ease, especially with the mesh beach bag they come in. This is something to consider if you’re looking for the perfect gift for a little one.
Material: Recycled plastic milk containers
We’ve been exploring pails, shovels, and molds. However, environmentally friendly beach toys can be as extensive as trucks. If your child loves playing around with toy cars and trucks, then this is an eco-friendly option.
The truck comes in bold red and yellow hues with shiny black tires. While playing, children can fill the opening of the truck with sand. Parents can also take advantage of its design by teaching their children about waste disposal.
This toy falls under the non-toxic beach toys category. It’s phthalate-free, BPA-free, and PVC-free. Although it's not free of plastic, it comes from recycled materials, specifically milk containers. You can also choose the green toys ferry boat, submarine, and other nautical toys, depending on your little one’s preference.
Playtime doesn’t have to be at the expense of the environment. As the sun comes out and children are excited to be on the beach, it’s a great time to consider the toys they use. Instead of going for environmentally damaging products, sustainable eco-toys exist. These come in unique designs and colors with something for various age ranges.
Johanna R. Rochester, Bisphenol A and human health: A review of the literature, Reproductive Toxicology, Volume 42, 2013, Pages 132-155, ISSN 0890-6238, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.reprotox.2013.08.008
Wang Y, Qian H. Phthalates and Their Impacts on Human Health. Healthcare (Basel). 2021 May 18;9(5):603. doi: 10.3390/healthcare9050603. PMID: 34069956; PMCID: PMC8157593.
Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.
Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.