Shame on you, Toys R Us… It’s not nice to disrespect Mother Nature.

From the perspectives of educator, naturalist, and parent… I find this tactic in advertising to be very disturbing. Modeling disrespect for nature as a strategy to promote a trip to a toy store is not only ridiculous … it’s a dangerous message.

Children NEED time with nature and should be encouraged to investigate, explore, discover, and bond with the natural world. Research findings provide data that shows children’s health, intellect, and emotional well-being all depend on time in nature for optimal growth. Research also tells us that the United States needs to bolster science, technology, engineering, and math understanding in today’s generations of students if we want a domestic source of highly-skilled individuals to fill future work force positions.

The phrase “it takes a village” comes to mind. Messages sent to children are a responsibility we all need to care about. The ad line “Toys R Us” chose to use that discredits nature to enhance the appeal of going to their store was misdirected. In fact, an opportunity to illustrate the community involvement of the Boys and Girls Club in making the field-trip possible for a group of disadvantaged kids was missed. A lead into this commercial that infers that community support for kids is a good thing would have been far more beneficial and responsible than inferring that nature is boring.

Besides… leaves are far from boring.

Think about what leaves can do that toys can’t: transform carbon dioxide into life-sustaining oxygen, filter pollution out of the air, provide food and shelter for animals, turn beautiful colors in the fall, give shade on a hot day, control climate, put moisture in the air…

Wow! Perhaps trees should be given Super Hero status! Now there’s an idea for a line of toys that hasn’t been explored… Nature Transformers…

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  1. Certainly no one ever hurls “Eat sunlight!” as an insult. Deep down, we know that trees are miracles.

    I agree, the marketing message of that commercial is wrong-headed. One child was shown with a telescope, another with a (foot-powered) bicycle. Imagine the strength of a commercial showing the children learning really cool stuff on a nature walk / star watch, and the majority then choosing outdoor or scientific equipment — or hey, even zoo animals instead of princesses and action figures — for their reward.


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