Battery Blues

February 17, 2006

Batteries are the bane of my parental existence. I’d guess that a good 85% of children’s toys today require batteries. That, to me, is indicative of a complete lack of imagination, perspective, and responsibility on the toymakers’ part.

Batteries contain hazardous waste, and increasingly, states are adopting laws that ban batteries from landfills. California’s just went into effect last week. What parent enjoys continually replacing the batteries in their kids’ toys? What parent feels good about contributing a steady stream of hazardous waste into the world? No one, that’s who.

A toy that flashes lights and plays music and boogies across the floor is surely a sensory treat, but can’t those special effects be produced with mechanisms that utilize a child’s own force? Or the sun? Or static?

Childhood obesity has reached epidemic levels. Yet so many of our toys are designed with a remote control mentality: the coolest gizmos are those that allow me to never use my body! The best toys are those that require the least input, where I’m a passive audience, expecting to be entertained, offering nothing in return but the random press of a button.

When the batteries in my son’s toys die, we don’t replace them. It’s ‘cuz we’re lazy. And we care.