Beach Toys

plastic-free sand castle

What have I got against beach toys? Absolutely nothing. It’s the plastic factor I have problems with. We regularly find plastic beach toys washed up on beaches, some dotted with barnacles, some cracked from winter storm action, some still in great shape. However handy they are for building sand castles, there’s no getting around the fact that plastic beach toys are bad food for marine life, and that’s where they’re headed once they enter the water, out of human hands. And since plastic toys are buoyant, it’s all too easy for them to slip away and float off before we realize what’s happened.

The good news is that there are readily available and affordable plastic-free beach toys that really work! Beautiful sand castles and hours of pouring and patting fun can be yours without any risk of adding to our global plastic pollution.


Metal beach toys from the thrift shop, photo by Rebecca Rockefeller

  • If you’re into upcycling, take a look through your kitchen cabinets or head to your local thrift store. Old metal gelatin molds, measuring cups, metal bowls, colanders, and silverware make perfect beach toys. They’re sturdy, safe for hands of all sizes, easy to wash clean after a day of mucking about, and they won’t float away. They can even double as garden decor when you’re not at the beach, just hang them on a fence or garden wall.

Gelatin Molds Can Decorate a Garden Wall or Fence When They’re Not Playing at the Beach

  • If you’d like a cradle-to-cradle biodegradable option, please consider the new line of “fantastic anti-plastic” beach toys from Zoe B Organic. Their toys are made from Mirel, the first bio-plastic (made from corn grown in Iowa) certified to biodegrade in natural water environments. All that and they’ve been designed to fit small hands and last for years if you bring them home with you.

Biodegradable beach toys, photo used with permission from Zoe B Organics

When you’ve found the perfect plastic-free beach toys for your family, please share your tips and photos with us – We’d love to add your beach toys and creations to our growing album. Your beachy fun can help inspire others to give this a try!

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Categories: DIY, Plastic-Free Living, Reduce Your Use, Trash Pile - All Our Stuff, Upcycle


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  1. Zero Waste Household Guide: Garden Tips « Trash Backwards - July 12, 2012

    […] what you’ve got or what you can rescue from your neighbors’ trash and recycle bin: Metal gelatin molds from thrift stores and garage sales can adorn a garden wall or fence and come down from their nails to double as plastic-free beach toys in the […]

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