As we know, kids put all sorts of stuff in their mouths. While you can't always stop them from tasting their toys, you can choose eco-friendly and organic toys without nasty chemicals. I was lucky enough to receive some wooden toys from a Korean company called Soopsori. Soopsori's toys are handmade from sustainably harvested wood and finished with Osmo Clear Oil (made with natural vegetable oils and free from biocides and preservatives).
Beyond being sustainably produced, Soopsori makes everything from wooden blocks to wooden robots to tea sets. They also recycle all sawdust from production and donate a percentage of their profits to environmental NGOs and for tree planting. The toys are also 100% recyclable as they are made without bolts or paints - although these are the kind of toys that could be passed down for generations (or at least from child to child, neighbor to neighbor).
And of course, the best thing is that the toys are beautiful and fun (so fun in fact, that as soon as I got the play chef set, I had to have a 30 second imaginary tea party, complete with toast and eggs). I also got a set of push cars, which are handy because you can have your child pretend your back is the road since the cars double nicely as massage rollers. But as I don't have kids myself, I wanted to verify that I wasn't the only one who wanted to play tea party with the Soopsori toys so I field tested them at a Palo Alto preschool called Leaping Lizards.
They were an instant success with both the boys and the girls. They even beat out the plastic dinosaurs. Unfortunately, Soopsori toys are not widely available in the US but keep an eye out at their website Ecowoodentoys.com and at their eBay store for updates. It's definitely worthwhile.