How to Recycle Old Toys
Monday, January 09, 2012
If you’re a parent, you likely have several giant bins filled to the brim with toys for your little ones. And with Christmas (ho ho ho!) over you’re likely to have gotten toys in all shapes and sizes. And while I’m no bah humbug, the relative size of our children’s toy boxes has become incredibly large given their small stature, and the environmental problems are equally ill-proportioned:
§Mountains of trash: Of the 40 million toys thrown away annually, 13 million are put into the rubbish according to green living website www.ecolife.com.
§Difficult recycling: Because toys are made from many different materials – plastics, metal, glass, computer components, and more – they are incredibly difficult to recycle and in many cases are not accepted by recycling facilities.
Once Christmas is over, we try to keep the toys under control (as well as our carbon footprint) by having a post-Christmas clean-up and getting rid of toys that haven’t been used or the children have simply grown out of.
Donating used toys to a good cause can be one of the most effective ways to recycle toys. Not only does this prevent garbage from being sent to landfills, it provides a second life for your used toys, which means the materials will go on functioning for many months or years to come. The sky’s the limit when it comes to donating used toys – use your imagination to find a person or charity who could use your secondhand toys:
§Thrift shops like those through St Vincent de Paul or the Salvation Army
Not all toys can be donated to charities for various health and ethical reasons. To ensure that your toys have the best chance of being given away rather than trashed, consider these toy donation guidelines:
§Toys should be nontoxic
§Ensure that the toys are clean and are not missing parts
§Broken toys are unlikely to be accepted, especially if they pose a choking hazard
§Avoid toys with a religious theme unless you’re donating to a faith-based charity
§Toys that require batteries are not as suitable for donation as they will require the parents of the child to purchase batteries (which may be out of their budget)
§Toys made from things like fabric, cardboard, paper, and other absorbable materials are often rejected as they are difficult to clean and disinfect
In addition to donating used toys, there are many ways you can recycle toys so that they don’t end up in the landfill:
§Contribute to a toy library: Some communities have toy libraries that are like book libraries – you can check toys in and out so that your child is never bored with their personal stash. Each toy library is unique to the local community, so the best way to find one in your area is to do a search online for your city/town name + “toy library.”
§Sell or trade: Sometimes a toy is too valuable to simply give away, in which case you could try to sell it.
§Recycling centers: Some communities have set up recycling programs for large plastic toys and metals toys as well, though you will need to call ahead to determine your recycling centre’s toy recycling policy.
§Deconstruction: If your recycling centre will not take your toys as is, sometimes you can dismantle them yourself to recycle the various components, such as the paper, cardboard, metal, and plastic which can then be put with other recyclables of the same kind. Cardboard and paper components can also be composted.
If you have any good ideas for what can be done with second hand toys we’d love to hear from you.