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School climate strike in London. Photo: Jenny Matthews/In Pictures via Getty Images

From Legos to Barbies, toys are an indispensable part of childhood — and plastics are an indispensable part of the toy industry. Some parents who are part of a growing zero-waste movement are refusing to buy plastic toys.

Why it matters: The global toy industry is worth $89 billion, and many toys today are made of plastic. It makes them inexpensive but also easily disposable once children grow out of them, and they're seldom recycled.

Many parents in a popular zero-waste Facebook group — with more than 100,000 members — opt for wood, fabric or paper toys.

  • Canadian Anna Muise avoids plastic and has passed building blocks and doll accessories handmade by her grandparents on to her children.
  • Some won't accept gifts of plastic toys. “If I can return the gift, I do,” New York City parent Megan Kip-Holden tells Axios.

But the sustainable toy industry is still niche and products can be more expensive than conventional plastic toys. “I am financially comfortable enough to buy higher quality toys,” says San Jose parent Karen Nguyen, "but I can’t expect everyone to share my standards."

  • Some eco-conscious parents don’t completely shun plastic toys if they are bought secondhand.
  • They also utilize toy libraries, or toyeries, which have operated across the country since 1935.

What to watch: Parents aren’t the only ones fighting for sustainable toys. LEGO — which made $5.49 billion in revenue in 2016 — has committed to using sustainable materials in their products and packaging by 2030.

  • Tim Brooks, Vice President of Environmental Sustainability at LEGO, tells "Axios on HBO" they’ve experimented with more 200 types of material, including corn, wheat and sugarcane.
  • But they haven't found a suitable stand-in for their iconic bricks yet — currently, only 2% of their products are made of plant-based plastic.
  • Other top toy companies are focusing on their plastic packaging: Hasbro announced it would start using plant-based plastics and Mattel said it would start including How2Recycle labels, both in 2019.

Go deeper

15 mins ago - World

Netanyahu and Israel reluctantly adjust to a post-Trump Washington

Netanyahu (R) and Biden in 2010. Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO via Getty

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his close aides are very nervous about the transition to a new U.S. administration after a four-year honeymoon with Donald Trump. One Israeli official told me it felt like going through detox.

What he's saying: Netanyahu congratulated Biden minutes after he was sworn in, saying in a statement that he looked forward to working together to "continue expanding peace between Israel and the Arab world and to confront common challenges, chief among them the threat posed by Iran."

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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3 hours ago - Economy & Business

First glimpse of the Biden market

Photo: Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images

Investors made clear what companies they think will be winners and which will be losers in President Joe Biden's economy on Wednesday, selling out of gun makers, pot purveyors, private prison operators and payday lenders, and buying up gambling, gaming, beer stocks and Big Tech.

What happened: Private prison operator CoreCivic and private prison REIT Geo fell by 7.8% and 4.1%, respectively, while marijuana ETF MJ dropped 2% and payday lenders World Acceptance and EZCorp each fell by more than 1%.