Are Toys Better Than Trees?

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A new commercial suggests that toys are more worthy of excitement than trees. Photo: Shutterstock

A new commercial suggests that toys are more worthy of excitement than trees. Photo: Shutterstock

A new Toys “R” Us commercial wants to tug at the heartstrings — and given that it involves taking a group of needy kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Big Brothers Big Sisters and providing them with some much-desired toys, you’d think it would. So why are we closer to weeping tears of sadness than to tears of joy while watching it?

The setup of the commercial isn’t so heartwarming — it involves a fake ranger making a nature-themed trip to a forest just about as boring as he can. Once all the kids are yawning, he springs the good news: Instead of looking at stupid leaves, they’re about to play with toys!

“As a parent who cares deeply about getting my kids outdoors, and who worries about the millions of American children who rarely get outside or have a chance to interact with nature, I find the setup of the ad troubling,” writes Christian Science Monitor staff writer Amanda Paulson.

Toys have their time and place, as does going on hikes, discovering how plants survive, running through the grass or spotting an intricately designed nest and its winged inhabitants.

“I would argue that the joy [kids] get from that natural experience is far deeper, more long-lasting, and will pay much greater dividends over their lifetime than any object they bring home from the toy store, which more than likely will be both broken and forgotten in a short time, another casualty of our throwaway culture,” Paulson writes.

The author concedes that providing underprivileged children with a toy was a generous thing to do. “But if they really want to make a difference in the lives of those kids,” she writes, “perhaps they should have taken them on that promised field trip to the forest.”

Read the full story here.

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Haley Shapley

Haley Shapley is based in Seattle, where recycling is just as cool as Macklemore, walking in the rain without an umbrella, and eating locally sourced food. She writes for a wide range of national and regional publications, covering everything from sustainability and health to travel and retail.

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