Last week my husband’s aunt inquired about what our daughter would like for Christmas. I stood speechless, unsure how to answer her. Instead of envisioning a pile of presents under a beautifully decorated tree, I was picturing the mountain of toys (nearly a million) that have recently been recalled because of health hazards.

My knee-jerk response was to say, “Anything that is not made in China”, but I resisted the urge. Instead, I went to my computer and began to research the problem that has captivated the minds of the American public: where to find toys that are safe for our children. After emerging from my computer, I realized that although China has become the scapegoat for poisonous products, US Companies may actually be at fault.

For example, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) is a US firm under attack by parents and consumer activists because KKR is the parent company of Toys ‘R’ Us, Dollar General, and other companies that have manufactured or sold dangerous products. They are accused of pressuring overseas manufacturers to cut corners in order to make products at bottom line prices. While such actions may have lined their corporate pockets, it has also placed dangerous products in the hands of children and other consumers. Avoiding products manufactured in China is not going to make business practices that endanger our health go away.

So how are we, as consumers, going to handle the holidays? The first step is to seek out reputable companies to purchase toys and other gifts from. The most environmentally-sound approach is to find suppliers or stores that sell safe products in your neck of the woods. Join the local chapter of the holistic moms group, don’t worry dads, you can join too ( and ask other members where to shop. If there are no local options, many safe products are available online.

One company I have discovered is, which has a business model that encourages sustainability and child safety. They have a wide variety of products including board games, wooden toys, kitchen sets, puzzles, and educational toys. Their products have not been affected by the recent safety recalls. The owner of the site, who is very pleasant to speak with, ensured me that all of their toys meet or exceed US and European standards for toy safety and pass regular safety and quality checks. Many of their toys are made by small companies in the USA (many are located in Montana, Minnesota and Michigan). I was also pleased to learn that the wood finishes are selected from the ‘safe substances’ list. (After all, lead is not the only toxic threat to children). You can purchase your gifts online at or call for other options. They even offer free shipping for orders over $75.

Perhaps the best alternative is to get a few extra hours of sleep on Black Friday rather than braving the crowd of holiday bargain shoppers. If you can hold off on toy shopping until after December 5th, you will have the advantage of shopping the big name stores armed with information about which of the toys found there contain toxic chemicals. Just go to on Wednesday, December 5th. That is when the results of testing performed on more than 1500 popular toys for toxic chemicals such as lead and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) will be released. Each week until Christmas more toys will be tested based upon shoppers’ requests. The testing was performed by the Ecology Center in collaboration with the Washington Toxics Coalition and other leading environmental groups using technology more reliable than home lead testing kits.

Another alternative to toxic toys is to gift clothing rather than toys. If taking this approach, consider organic cotton clothing or pajamas that are inherently flame retardant so the chemical hazards of flame retardants are not absorbed through your child’s skin. For babies, Under the Nile ( sells organic cotton children’s clothing, stuffed toys, and a cute little crate of stuffed veggies.

As the holiday season approaches, remember that each and every dollar we spend speaks volumes about what we believe in. By refusing to support companies that endanger our health, we are paving the way for safer products and sustainable practices to thrive in the marketplace. So lets all have a happy, healthy holiday by purchasing quality products from companies that care. And remember that hand-made gifts are from the heart and equally precious. If you cannot afford to buy safer products forego the store-bought gifts and craft something yourself.

If you are looking for a gift for an adult, order the eBook “Holler for Your Health: Be the Key to a Healthy Family” at This book will help the recipient preserve or reclaim their health. According to Dr. Leo Galland, author of the highly acclaimed The Fat Resistance Diet, Power Healing, and Superimmunity for Kids, “Every parent needs to read this book.” Let this Christmas be the year that we provide our children with healthier gifts for themselves as well as the world they will inherit.

Teresa Holler is the author of “Holler for Your Health: Be the Key to a Healthy Family” and “Cardiology Essentials” (Jones and Bartlett, 2007). She is a Physician Assistant and Former Assistant Professor of Medicine. Teresa Holler has a Bachelors degree in Biology and Physician Assistant Studies. She also holds a Masters Degree in Primary Care Medicine and has completed Doctoral coursework in Medical Writing and Environmental Health.

By yanam49

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