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Playtime is crucial to children’s healthy brain development; it is through play that children at a very early age engage and interact in the world around them.

Whether you are acquiring toys for the special children in your life, or for a play area for your property or restaurant, remember that your choices can make an impact both socially and environmentally.

Here are 7 tips on how you can go about choosing the right toys for kids: 

  1. Look it up

Before purchasing a toy, look it up online to make sure there are no recall notices.

To check if the toy you want to purchase is safe, try looking it up on Healthy Stuff. They have a database of products that you may use to your advantage.

  1. Check for labels

Familiarise yourself with symbols on product labels so that you can avoid toys that may have harmful substances like lead, phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA) etc.

If a label is missing, look up the toy online and check if there are any complaints about it.

  1. Shop local

By buying from local vendors, you support the local community and bring down the need for importing products from far-flung places; this subsequently reduces greenhouse gas emissions as well.

  1. Buy second hand

Children grow out of their toys so quickly ­– they lose their lustre or they move past a certain developmental phase. Look out for yard sales, and check your local consignment store or Salvation Army for deals! You’ll be surprised to find many new toys still in the box. On the flip side, when your children grow out of their toys that still have lots of life left, save them for nieces and nephews, donate them, or sell them on a local Facebook group! Make a buck while saving more items from landfill.

  1. Select the right material

Try to avoid buying plastic toys whenever you can because, they can often contain various chemicals and toxins that can be harmful to your little ones and the environment.

Consider toys made from more natural materials, such as wood, wool, and cotton. If you’re buying puzzles and books, check to see if natural inks were used on recycled and biodegradable materials.

  1. Get creative

Perhaps exercise your creativity and handcraft something for your kids to play with. Here are some fun DIY projects you can try. Other favourite resources include:

  1. Steer clear of batteries

Batteries pose a threat to the environment because of the toxic waste they release upon disposal. They are also a choking hazard for your little rug rats. Therefore, instead of opting for battery-powered products, go for ones where your kids have the freedom to bring the toys to life with pure, unadulterated imagination.

Sustainable toys will not only ensure a safe and happy childhood for your kids, but it will also help secure the world for generations to come. It’s a win-win!

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For those in the world of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Environmental and Social Governance reporting (ESG), an interesting dynamic is at play in Hong Kong, with a large multinational brand being drawn into the domestic “dirty” laundry of its licensee. The question is whether that local partner, and flagbearer of that brand, is able to find solutions which will not pull the value of the international brand down with its own domestic reputation.

In short, Maxim’s — the licensee of Starbucks in Hong Kong,  Macau, Singapore and Vietnam, with over 180 stores — is also the largest restaurant chain in Hong Kong, and it continues to serve shark fin. This is akin to having a menu option for elephant or rhino.

Read the full article here.

By Doug Woodring for GreenBiz.

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More than eight million tonnes of plastic enters the world’s oceans every year.

The BBC is to ban single-use plastics by 2020, after TV series Blue Planet II highlighted the scale of sea pollution.

First, throwaway plastic cups and cutlery will be scrapped by the end of this year, followed by plastic containers in canteens by 2019.

By 2020, the BBC hopes to be free of single-use plastic across all sites.

Tony Hall, director general of the BBC, said he had been “shocked” by the plastic waste featured in last year’s nature documentary.

Announcing its three-step plan on Tuesday, the BBC said some of its kitchens had already started replacing plastic cups with glasses.

Read the full article here.

By BBC News

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Credit: 123RF

Vanuatu’s foreign minister says a national audit currently underway will help determine the next stages of the country’s plastics ban.

Ralph Regenvanu said the audit would also examine ways of reducing plastic use, recycling and alternative materials.

He said the ultimate goal is to eliminate all single-use plastics going into the ocean.

“There’s going to be a number of options. There are some items we can obviously ban outright like we did with the three items we just banned. But then of course there’s options for container return, return and deposit schemes.

“That’s seems to be something that is very successful in other jurisdictions. Having a levy which is charged and then people get given a refund for the return of a particular item.”

Read the full article here.

By Radio New Zealand

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tiger, wilderness, sustainable travel, protect wildlife, wildlife protection, conservation, animal welfare

Credit: Shutterstock

Wildlife encounters are one of the most exciting and memorable experiences you can have, but your safety and the animal’s welfare should be your highest priority.

Here are some tips on how to have an exhilarating and responsible wildlife experience:

  • If you can, visit animals in the wild or in sanctuaries where they are kept in the most natural conditions possible. If you’re looking for a more affordable option such as a zoo, do some research on the establishment’s stance on animal welfare before you purchase a ticket.

 

  • Don’t use animals as photo props. Critters such as the slow loris are adorable, but they get distressed when held; therefore, no matter how cute or seemingly harmless, avoid the urge to treat wild animals as cuddly toys.

 

  • Check if your tour operator has taken adequate measures to ensure safety for you and the wildlife. You can reduce uncertainty by booking tours through tour operators that have special accreditations, that show they follow sustainable tourism practices, such as PATA members Khiri and Buffalo Tours.

 

  • Appreciate animals just as they are and respect them. Some attractions may have your favourite creatures behaving in a way they normally wouldn’t in the wild. It’s best to avoid supporting such activities, as it is difficult to access whether the training methods used to tame the animals are responsible or not.

 

 

Spend sustainably because your refusal to engage in potentially dubious activities will bring down the business that profits at the expense of wildlife.

For more background information on the role of elephants in Asia and animal welfare, visit the links below:

If you’d like a more thorough understanding of animal welfare in tourism, check out ABTA’s Animal Welfare Guidelines.

 

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Ecotourism creates local employment in Brunei. Credit: Maurice Spee

It may be best known around the world for the fabulous wealth of its head of state, the Sultan of Brunei. But the tiny country of Brunei Darussalam, which occupies a small portion of the island of Borneo, is quickly developing a reputation as a centre of ecotourism.

In Ulu Temburong National Park, Leslie Chang runs the Sumbiling Eco Village where visitors can find themselves deep in the wild just a relatively short drive from the bustling capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan.

Read the full article here.

By Ken Foxe for Lonely Planet.

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bike riding, sustainable transportation, couple, holiday, vacation, countryside

Enjoy the summertime while practicing eco-friendly habits. A little goes a long way in terms of sustainability, and every bit of effort counts.

Here are seven tips to help you go green this summer:

  • Stay hydrated by carrying your own refillable tumbler or water bottle. Refuse to use single use plastic bottles, cups and straws.
  • Get a few indoor plants, they can act as natural air purifiers and will liven up your space.
  • Save on your electricity bill by letting in natural daylight. Remember to turn off lights, fans and other electronic appliances when not in use. Switch to energy efficient LED light bulbs.
  • Use eco-friendly deodorants to stay fresh this summer. They are better for your skin and, of course, the environment. If you can’t find them in the market, try this simple DIY.
  • Prepare a hearty meal at home and avoid processed foods. This will minimize waste generation and will also be beneficial for your health.
  • Ride your bicycle or walk to travel short distances. Use public transport to cover greater distance. If you can’t avoid driving, try staying within the speed limit, as this is more fuel efficient.
  • Instead of using the dryer for clothes, let your laundry dry out in the summer sun.
  • Shop for produce at local markets. This supports the economy and the community at large.

If you’re planning to go on holiday, try going green and help to preserve the beautiful destinations for generations to come.

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Officials say Vietnam’s best bet may be to plant more mangrove trees (Credit: Harald Franzen/©GIZ)

Rising sea levels threaten key coastal areas like the Mekong Delta, which produces the majority of Vietnam’s rice. The only thing standing between the country and the ocean is a tree.

Mangroves are the climate superheroes of the arboreal world. They grow in swamps along the coasts: thin trunks and tangled, spidery roots submerged in dark, briny water. The roots filter saltwater and can expand eroded coastlines. They also create natural storm barriers and protect agricultural land from saltwater infiltration.

Read the full article here.

By Erin Craig for BBC Travel.

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Let’s turn the high seas into the world’s largest nature reserve

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Comments Off on Let’s turn the high seas into the world’s largest nature reserve

Credit: TED

What if we could save the fishing industry and protect the ocean at the same time? Marine ecologist Enric Sala shares his bold plan to safeguard the high seas — some of the last wild places on earth, which fall outside the jurisdiction of any single country — by creating a giant marine reserve that covers two-thirds of the world’s ocean. By protecting the high seas, Sala believes we will restore the ecological, economic and social benefits of the ocean. “When we can align economic needs with conservation, miracles can happen,” Sala says.

Watch the TED Talk or read the transcript here.

By Enric Sala for TED.

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Credit: Travindy

The Republic of Palau in the Western Pacific has today launched the Palau Pledge, a world-first eco-initiative that asks all inbound visitors to make a compulsory promise, directly to the children of Palau, to preserve their home before they can enter the country.

The Palau Pledge is a new immigration policy that takes effect this December. Palau has become the first country to update its immigration policy and landing procedures to implement such legislation, aimed at preserving its culture and the beauty of its natural environment for future generations. It also hopes that other countries will follow suit to protect the planet for children worldwide.

The Palau Pledge is based on the Palauan tradition of BUL, a moratorium declared by Palau’s traditional leaders that places an immediate halt to the over-consumption or destruction of a species, place or thing.

Find out more about the Palau Pledge by reading the full article here.

By Travindy for Travindy.

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