Building a sustainable games room for you and your family

Whether for yourself, your children or the whole family, building an eco-friendly playroom or games room in your home has never been easier. Here are some simple steps to help you get started.

Child playing with dolls and toys

1. Shop conscientiously

When it comes to filling your games room with toys and games, do you really need to shop new?

One of the simplest ways to make your playroom more sustainable is to fill it full of pre-loved or up cycled items. These can be found online, in charity stores or at car boot sales.

Many toy brands in the UK, including Mattel and Hasbro, even offer their own schemes that allow you to shop directly for second-hand items.

If you can’t find the things you or your children want second-hand, here are some other simple things you can do to shop greener:

  • Avoid plastic: many toys are made with plastic or plastic derivatives such as PVC. However, there are a number of alternatives out there made of materials such as metal, wood and fabric.
  • Consider packaging: many toys come wrapped in plastic. Try to look for things that come packaged in cardboard or fabric instead. You can often re-use or recycle these packages.
  • Download instead of buying: when it comes to video and computer games, it’s more ecologically friendly to buy online than in the store. You can skip out buying the plastic box, physical CD and/or cartridge and just get straight into the game.
  • Recycle when you’re done: once you or your family has finished with something, don’t just leave it lying around or store it in the attic. Instead, donate it to a charity store or re-sell it online and let other people enjoy your pre-loved things.

2. Choose eco-friendly furnishings

It’s not just toy shopping that ought to be sustainable. Make sure the furniture and fittings in your playroom are good for the environment, too.

While it may be less expensive to purchase furniture made of plastic, this kind of décor won’t last forever (especially if it breaks), and is likely to end up in landfill eventually.

Try instead to look for furniture made out of sustainable materials, especially wood or metal. Even low-cost wood like MDF is better for the environment than plastic.

When it comes to toy boxes, forego plastic and look for hemp or fabric baskets. The same goes for shelving – try to find a wooden bookcase or fabric wall-hanging unit instead.

Remember, not all woods and fabrics are equal. Cotton, for instance, requires a lot of water to grow, while some furniture uses formaldehyde glue which is bad for the environment.

3. Make your gaming greener

When it comes to choosing energy efficient appliances for the kitchen, the choices are endless. But if your family are big on video games, how can you use less energy in the games room too?

The best way is by upgrading to modern-day consoles as many include power-saving settings built-in. Another tip is to not use your consoles for streaming – you could be using 15x more energy compared to streaming through a Smart TV.

If you’re more of a PC gamer, try looking into liquid-cooled computer units. Not only could they improve the performance of your PC versus fan-cooled units, they may also be more sustainable. And, better still, liquid cooling can improve the lifespan of your PC, meaning you’re less likely to throw old parts away.

4. Start an indoor greenhouse

Who says playtime needs to be all about toys?

Instead of filling your games room with games and electronics, take a natural approach and use the space to grow houseplants, fruits and vegetables instead.

Kids will delight in getting messy and taking care of the sprouts, while adults can use the produce in recipes – which can help you to cut down on supermarket spending (and the plastic that comes with it).

If you’re stuck for ideas, try starting with hardy succulents. They grow well indoors and don’t require much attention.

Houseplants can help to boost your mood and improve the atmosphere of your indoor spaces, meaning your playroom can double as a space to work, relax and read too.

5. Turn your playroom into a learning room

Could your little one be a climate scientist of the future? The best way to help them could be to invest in fun science kits that will help them learn about sustainable science.

The Science Museum has many options to help you get started:

  • The Weather Science kit helps little scientists to learn about the natural world, including how clouds are made and what lightning is.
  • This Build Your Own Wind Turbine kit lets you do just that – who knows, in a few years, maybe someone in your family could be building full-size turbines.
  • For those who prefer computers and video gaming, this Code Gamer kit challenges you to build a working toy using computer programming language.

Remember, the best thing you can do to make any room in your house more sustainable is anything. Make a start today and see if you can turn playtime into a truly carbon-neutral experience.

To discover even more ways to make your home sustainable, check out some of the handy hints and tips in our Eco Home Hub.

Homeowner Inspiration

Inspirational ideas for big or small changes for your home.

Homeowner Inspiration articles