Express press service
A first toy is almost like a child’s first friend. However, with the introduction of the internet, children are slowly turning away from toys for entertainment. “Playtime is important in connecting a child to their roots and also improves their skills. A toy therefore becomes an important tool in helping children understand that things don’t just happen at the touch of a finger,” explains Faridabad resident Kriti Goyal (36) who founded Berry Bee, a sustainable toy brand, in 2012. Other conscious parents similar to Goyal have realized the need to teach children about sustainable practices from their Since toys help with cognitive development, what better way to teach children about the planet than to provide a sustainable alternative to frequently purchased plastic toys?
A few Delhi-NCR brands such as Berry Bee go beyond mass-produced plastic toys, which are usually imported from China, to offer durable toys or rag dolls made from recycled fabrics that help reduce its carbon footprint. At a time when being climate-conscious is the need of the hour, such homemade toys can help provide an eco-friendly alternative for kids.
“Although we don’t have a huge variety, we try to create timeless pieces. I have two children at home and I would buy toys for them every time. That’s when I noticed that most toys on the market were made from plastic,” shares Anjani Ghai Puri (37) from Gurugram. Puri launched a clothing brand Akishi in 2020, which also offers a range of rag dolls made from recycled fabric. To ensure that one can help build a greener future, Akishi’s team plants a tree for every doll sold (which costs around Rs. 1,250). “Dolls have a very important role in children’s lives. Children need to know the effects their dolls will have on the environment and on others around them,” adds Puri.
Silaiwali by Khirki Village is another eco-friendly toy brand that offers a range of sustainable rag dolls made by a community of Afghan women. With prices ranging from Rs. 1,700 to 3,500 rupees, this venture – which started in 2019 – was started by husband-wife duo Biswadeep Moitra (56) and Iris Strill to help the marginalized community and inculcate the idea of environmentally friendly practices to children. “Every child has played with a rag doll before, so we felt like it would have an emotional connection with parents and children. You connect with a toy at a very formative age. Your mind is impressionable. This what you play with is what you become. The toy a child plays with can be either constructive or destructive,” Moitra says.
The founders we spoke to for this story also mention how providing children with sustainable alternatives from an early age can help them better adapt to an eco-friendly world, where, as Moitra adds, ” they can live happily and safely”.
These companies making their mark in the Indian toy industry help citizens realize that credible and reliable local toy brands exist in the country. “Since there are not many Indian brands, the image that customers have of these products is not good. Indian consumers generally think that ‘Made in India’ equals poor quality,” says Puri.
The three business owners also add that while consumers expect to buy local products, they are not willing to pay a higher price. “There are people who still question the higher prices because a child will only play with a toy for a small period of time. However, many people have started to realize that these toys are not only durable, they will also last. longer and can be passed on from generation to generation,” Goyal informs.
These homemade toys aren’t just basic; a few are also versatile. While Berry Bee’s hopscotch mats cost Rs. 1,700 – suitable for use as an interactive toy, yoga mat or even a decorative item, Akishi and Silaiwali’s rag dolls are collectibles for their clientele.
Although slow, there has been a visible change in the toy industry. Speaking about the India Toy Fair 2021 which took place virtually in February last year, Goyal adds, “It was a great move. People have been told that there are a lot of Indian brands in the toy industry. Puri concludes that she thinks over time people will understand the need to switch to eco-friendly toys.