Up front, I want to tell you that this article was driven by an offer from a well known, highly respected, and excellent planet saving NFP, who was soliciting for donations. In exchange for your donation the group were offering the option of their mascot as a plush toy. The good news was that it was an option.
The real news is that anyone campaigning for the survival of flora, fauna, habitats and a better planet; really has to check in on the leadership in giving away something most people will have no more than a passing interest in - and in the process, wasting a pile of unnecessary resources and screwing up a little more of the very planet they are seeking to save.
And that's before we get started on babies, mouths and microplastics.
Most soft toys you purchase commercially that are made of any kind of soft fleece or fur, unless you are specifically told otherwise, are made of polyester. The outside layer and the inside stuffing. Plush toys sold to you for babies, children or simply a bit of fun are pretty much all polyester fabric and stuffing. The thing with faux or minky fur or whatever else it gets called, is that it’s a synthetic textile made from polyester, which is of course plastic.
What’s the issue? It's about how these toys get to be cuddly, soft, pliable – and usually cheap. There are many issues, not least of all that polyester, a plastic, is made from non renewable fossil fuels, but the two main issues are microplastic fibres and wasted resources.
All synthetic textiles shed tiny microfibres – thousands of them from any piece of fabric. (Bear in mind that it's not just toys that are made of fake fleece and fur. So are blankies, blankets and clothing.) All synthetic fabrics shed microfibres. They shed most when washed, but they also shed into children’s mouths and guts when the fabrics are played with and sucked on. These microfibres also float into your home’s air - breathed in by you, your family and friends.
One of the big issues with plush toys and faux fleeces is that they can be so damn cute and there are always plenty of them around for Easter, Halloween or Xmas. So easy to pick up on the way to the supermarket checkout or to be enticed online.
Many charities and NFPs have also developed a donation strategy around offering a logo based plushie in exchange for a donation. But if you are offered a plushie in exchange for a donation, please think twice.
EVERYTIME YOU PICK UP A CUTE SOFT POLYESTER TOY OR ACCEPT ONE, YOU ARE ACQUIRING A ONE WAY TICKET TO ADDING PLASTIC TO LANDFILL AND WORSE, WASTING ALL THE RESOURCES THAT WERE USED TO MAKE IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Best to avoid giving your own or other’s small children, synthetic toys, blankies or clothes. Kick the habit of picking up cheap, fun things you don’t need. If you are giving a donation to a cause, give money and say no to the plushie.