Eco-friendly toy stuffing

Posted by Penny on June 29, 2011
Craft Supplies, Information, Natural Fibers

When I first started making my Pocket Carnival softies I knew I didn’t want to use polyfill, but was pretty bamboozled by all the alternatives. Polyfill is so easily available, pretty much every craft & fabric store sells it, but it’s not a great product. Polyfill (polyester stuffing) is a petrochemical based polymer plastic product. Petroleum is a non-renewable resource, and polyfill is not biodegradable.

There are so many alternatives to polyfill, it’s just finding them that can be tricky. I’ve put together a list of some plant based stuffing I’ve come across, feel free to leave comments with more!

 

Corn fiber - this is what I currently use to stuff my softies. It’s 100% corn derived, has very low flammability and is non-allergenic. Corn is increasingly being used as a biodegradable alternative to petroleum based plastic in everything from tableware & pens to cellophane packaging. It does however have similar flaws to bamboo fiber – turning raw corn into corn fiber requires chemical processing – it also uses a lot of energy as there’s no ‘natural’ way to do it. Corn fiber stays fluffy & light when it’s used as stuffing, similar to polyfill.

Buy it: Innergreen.com.au

 

Kapok pod – image via gliving.com

Kapok - I admit, until I started researching toy stuffings to write this post, I’d never heard of kapok. Kapok (also called ceiba tree) is native to parts of Central & South America, and parts of Africa. It’s now also grown commercially in parts of South-East Asia. The kapok fiber comes from the plants seed pods (the actual seeds are used to produce oil!) Kapok is light and tends not to compact.

More info: Wikipedia. Buy it: Kapok.com.au (AU, fairly traded).

 

Cotton fiber - cotton grows into a cute & fluffy little puffball, and cotton fiber used for stuffing is cotton picked from the plant, which has been cleaned and combed. Organic cotton fiber has been grown organically, and is especially popular as a natural toy stuffing. Cotton fiber does compact significantly over time, so it may not be appropriate for certain toys, pillows or things that may easily compact.

Buy it: NearSeaNaturals.com (US, organic), Hollyburton Park (AU), Mohair Bear Making Supplies (UK), Ecoyarns (AU).

 

Hemp stem – image via wikipedia.com

Hemp fiber – hemp is a fast growing plant which, even when grown conventionally, requires very few herbicides and pesticides. The fiber from the hemp plant grows along the stem of the plant, and when it’s harvested it’s rolled, cleaned and carded. Then a steaming process is used to remove the natural gum from the fiber.

More info: MadeHow.com. Buy it: HempWA.com (AU)

 

 

Other stuffing options include agave fiber (also known as sisal), corn husk stuffing (unprocessed and shredded corn husk), animal wool (including sheep & alpaca), jute & flax.

 

Do you produce something using eco-friendly toy stuffing? Do you sell stuffing? Leave a comment and let me know!

 

22 Comments to Eco-friendly toy stuffing

  • Tess says:

    Great post! I’ve been using polyfill and never gave a thought to it’s origins! thanks so much for pointing out the alterantives.
    I do remember Kapok tho’ – back in the olden days.

  • Lexa says:

    This is awesome info, thank you! I juuuussst started making some amigurumi as a present, and I just bought polyfil cause it’s easy. I think I will reconsider using it and getting something more eco-friendly. :)

    • Penny says:

      I love amigurumi! Good luck making them! It’s slowly slowly getting easier to get nice stuffing that’s not polyfill, but I confess I do have a teeny bag of leftover polyfill lurking in a cupboard somewhere! Eek!

  • We have the recycled PET stuffing from Innergreen, it is made from recycling PET drink bottles. We only have it available at markets since we haven’t figured out how we are going to ship it yet. We plan to try the corn fibre one in the future when we have more space to store it.

  • [...] toys are made from 100% cotton (yay!) and are filled with kapok fiber (read more about kapok here!). Plus, no detachable buttons/eyes etc mean awesome for [...]

  • Andrea says:

    I was just wondering if there was any updates on filling. I would love to make dog beds with some sort of recycled or eco product.

    Would love to hear your feedback.

    Thanks,

    Andrea

  • Chastity says:

    I’m so glad I found this site! I’m looking for natural stuffing for baby toys. I was wondering based on user experience, what material works best if I want something that can be thrown into the washer with my little girl’s clothes? I’d prefer something that could be dried as well (on delicate), but something machine washable is my primary concern (doesn’t lump up, loose loft, smell funny, or do some other crazy thing).

    Thanks

  • Lois says:

    Fairfield makes three varieties of “natural” alternatives to polyfil. You can find them listed here… Corn, Bamboo and a mix of corn and synthetic.

    http://www.fairfieldworld.com/product-cat/22-natural-fiberfills

  • Carole Colquehoun says:

    I want to stuff toys with the cheapest organic natural fiber I can find. I am not a store, just an individual crafter and grandmother. Cotton sounds like the cheapest thing at this point. But, I can’t pay the high shipping prices when all I need at this point is one or two pounds of stuffing. Where can I buy something like this near where I live in the USA (California, zip 93420)?

  • Hello,

    For Australians looking for eco friendly alternatives for stuffing visit http://www.ecofilling.com. An Australian busines they stock a range of eco friendly fibres/stuffing and fillers eg, kapok, australian organic cotton, hemp fibre, australian organic wool and wadding, eucaplytus fibre, corn fibre, rpet fibre (recycled plastic bottles), buckwheat hulls and bamboo fibre. All is available from 250 grams and up to 10 kilos. Ships to Australia Only.

  • Olivia says:

    Hi, I am volunteering in a school in Africa and would like to start a craft club making toys and cushions from African fabrics which the students could sell to raise money. We’d be looking at the social and environmental responsibility market of course.

    Do you know of cheap recycled stuffing materials that might be available in Tanzania? At the moment the best I can think of is scraps and off-cuts from tailors. As we’re a charity I’d go and ask local tailors for donations of scrap material

  • So glad to find this post. After discovering the incredible toxicity of poly fiberfill manufacturing and the fact that it is registered with the US Toxic Substances Act even in its finished form, I have ordered different types of natural fills to test and compare. I use only wool fleece myself in my dolls.Ecofilling.com in Victoria carries many natural fills. I get my wool fleece from MorningStar Crafts. Hope those sources help folks.

  • Estefania Araiza says:

    Hello, I am designing a toy for children and wanted to know your opinion on the materials I could use. Thank you for the post it was of great help.

  • Pat Horan says:

    Which one of these is washable and where would I find organic cotton stuffing?

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