Jun 15, 2019

Parents against plastic

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.

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Driving the news: Barr was asked to respond to comments from Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said Tuesday that he "did not know a photo op was happening" and that he does everything he can to "try and stay out of situations that may appear political."

Updates: Cities move to end curfews for George Floyd protests

Text reading "Demilitarize the police" is projected on an army vehicle during a protest over the death of George Floyd in Washington, D.C.. early on Thursday. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Several cities are ending curfews after the protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people led to fewer arrests and less violence Wednesday night.

The latest: Los Angeles and Washington D.C. are the latest to end nightly curfews. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted Wednesday night that "peaceful protests can continue without a curfew, while San Francisco Mayor London Breed tweeted that the city's curfew would end at 5 a.m. Thursday.

Murkowski calls Mattis' Trump criticism "true and honest and necessary and overdue"

Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Thursday that she agreed with former Defense Secretary James Mattis' criticism of President Trump, calling it "true and honest and necessary and overdue."

Why it matters: Murkowski, who has signaled her discomfort with the president in the past, also said that she's "struggling" with her support for him in November — a rare full-on rebuke of Trump from a Senate Republican.