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Why does Montessori not use plastic?

Discover how the absence of plastic materials aligns with its principles, promoting tactile learning, environmental awareness, and a deep connection to the world.

Table of Content

Have you ever wondered why Montessori education often avoids the use of plastic materials? Join us as we uncover the philosophy behind this choice and explore the benefits of using more natural, eco-friendly materials in Montessori environments.

Montessori education emphasizes the importance of using materials that are closer to nature, encouraging sensory exploration and sustainability. Plastic is typically avoided due to its artificial nature and limited sensory experiences it offers children.

Montessori Education: A Philosophy of Natural Materials

Montessori education is based on the belief that children learn best through hands-on experiences and exploration. The classroom environment is carefully designed to stimulate curiosity, independence, and a love for learning. Central to this philosophy is the use of natural materials, such as wood, glass, metal, and fabric. These materials engage the senses and provide a more authentic sensory experience for children.

Plastic: The Downside

Plastic, on the other hand, has several drawbacks that make it less suitable for Montessori classrooms. Firstly, plastic is derived from non-renewable fossil fuels, contributing to environmental degradation and climate change. By avoiding plastic, Montessori schools promote sustainability and reduce their carbon footprint.

Moreover, plastic lacks the warmth and aesthetic appeal of natural materials. Montessori classrooms strive to create an inviting and nurturing environment that reflects the beauty of the natural world. Using wooden tables, glass jars, and fabric rugs, for example, adds a touch of warmth and elegance to the space.

Promoting Sensory Development

Another crucial aspect of Montessori education is the promotion of sensory development. The use of natural materials enhances children’s tactile, visual, and auditory experiences. For instance, wooden toys offer a more varied texture and weight compared to their plastic counterparts. This allows children to explore different sensory stimuli and develop their fine motor skills.

Encouraging Environmental Consciousness

In addition to the sensory benefits, Montessori education nurtures environmental consciousness from a young age. By using natural materials, children are exposed to the beauty and importance of the natural world. They learn to appreciate the value of resources, the interconnectedness of ecosystems, and the need for sustainable practices. This early exposure lays the foundation for a lifelong commitment to environmental stewardship.

Supporting Creativity and Imagination

The absence of pre-determined forms in natural materials allows for more open-ended play and creativity. Unlike plastic toys that often come with a specific purpose or function, natural materials can be transformed and used in various imaginative ways. A wooden block, for example, can become a car, a bridge, or a building in a child’s imaginative world. This freedom of expression fosters creativity and problem-solving skills.

The Role of Montessori Educators

Montessori educators play a crucial role in guiding children’s learning experiences. They carefully select and present materials that align with the child’s developmental stage and interests. By using natural materials, educators provide children with a connection to the real world and encourage a sense of wonder and curiosity.


In conclusion, Montessori education’s choice to avoid plastic is rooted in a holistic approach to child development and environmental consciousness. Natural materials provide a sensory-rich environment, promote creativity, and instill a sense of responsibility towards the environment. By embracing alternatives to plastic, Montessori schools create an engaging and sustainable learning environment that nurtures the minds and hearts of young learners.

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