If you're looking for ways that you can entertain your family and friends without depending on electronic toys and games that come with a high price tag and suck up hundreds of watts of energy every day (even when they're turned off!), you might be surprised to learn that board games are becoming popular all over again.
Natural Home reports that "board game purchases were up 23 percent in 2000, and since then world events and tumultuous economic times have boosted their popularity." Families that are striving to return to a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle are drawn to the imaginative play that board games encourage, as well as the opportunity to engage each other in an activity that promotes eye contact instead of staring at a screen.
You might also be surprised to learn that several of the most beloved games are already being made in an eco-friendly fashion, no greenwashing required.
Many of the Chinese Checkers sets that you might find in a thrift store or discount store are still made from recycled paperboard with recycled glass marbles, just like they were in the 1930's. And did you know that U.S. Playing Cards, the world’s largest manufacturer of playing cards, uses certified sustainably harvested wood, Georgia clay, corn syrup, and cornstarch to make the classic Bicycle deck that has been a best-seller for 100 years? It's true. And the company even recycles all of its scrap!
If you like the idea of trying out lesser known board games, there are plenty of exotic options available from fair-trade retailers like Ten Thousand Villages and Novica.com, which both sell beautiful wooden board games complete with stone, wood, and clay playing pieces that have been handcrafted. A portion of the sale of these games is reinvested in the artisans and their communities.
MindWare offers a four-person version of mancala, a well-loved African game, as well as several other board games, made from sustainably grown rubberwood with glass “pebbles.” Rose and Pentagram Design uses industry scrap and thrift shop finds to produce one-of-a-kind game sets and tables embellished with elaborate Celtic art (Natural Home).
For the very motivated (or creative!), there's no reason why you can't also make your own board games from materials found around the house. Cardboard boxes, paper squares, pebbles, golf tees, egg cartons and beans can all be used to craft custom versions of popular games like checkers and chess.
(Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons - viZZZual.com)