Just toys? : From material sustainability to co-design and degrowth

Ellsworth-Krebs, Katherine; Dunn, Nick and Cruickshank, Leon and Coupe, Gemma, eds. (2023) Just toys? : From material sustainability to co-design and degrowth. In: Flourish by Design. Routledge, London, pp. 161-163. ISBN 9781003399568 (https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003399568-33)

[thumbnail of Ellsworth-Krebs-Routledge-2023-Just-toys-from-material-sustainability-to-co-design-and-degrowth]
Text. Filename: Ellsworth-Krebs-Routledge-2023-Just-toys-from-material-sustainability-to-co-design-and-degrowth.pdf
Final Published Version
License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 logo

Download (82kB)| Preview


Being asked to gift only books for a friend’s baby offers not only relief from walking the gendered aisles of Toys ‘R’ Us, wondering about parental response to receiving a doll for their son or a tractor for their daughter, but comfort knowing they will be used and wanted. For a sustainability scholar, these anxieties are an occupational hazard; it’s hard to shed the critic’s hat when thinking about the climate emergency. However, despite increasing headlines about climate change, plastic pollution and fast fashion, toys are largely absent from public debates around sustainability. Yet toys are an important facilitator of education and societal values, and their roles have long been discussed in relation to career choices and perceived gender norms. Less often acknowledged, though, is how toys carry implicit messages about environmental sustainability or social justice. What does that (un)intentionally teach children about acceptable ways of being in society?