There’s too much plastic about. Fact. And you can bet a lot of it is in your kids’ toy-box.
We spend a huge amount of money on toys – £370m last year – but many of them are sitting around unplayed with. And, a British Heart Foundation survey found one in four parents bin toys that are in perfect working order.
It’s a huge amount of waste – but there are ways to reduce it (and spare yourself the sight of that big ugly pile of ignored junk in the corner of your living room).
1. Borrow Them.
Working just like a regular book-based library but for playthings, toy libraries – like the one HuffPost visited in Lewisham – are volunteer-run enterprises that kids can borrow toys from for up to four weeks at a time. There’s no centralised list of which areas have toy libraries and which don’t, so your best bet is to check your local council’s website.
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2. Subscribe To Them.
Whirli is a service that offers a sends you a set amount of toys at a time – like a mail-based version of Netflix rather than a streaming one (so more LoveFilm, remember LoveFilm? DVDs by post… now that was a moment in time).
For a monthly fee (starting from £9.99) you’re sent a certain number of toys at once. When you get bored, return them and choose more. You have to pay for each delivery (or do an Asos-like flat fee), and toys are valued on a points system, with each membership tier allowing you more toys in one go. If your kids get particularly attached to one special toy, keep hold of it for nine months and it’s yours.
3. Find Them A New Home.
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Some parents adopt the “one in, one out” policy of busy nightclubs to keep their children’s toy collections manageable so they don’t end up feeling like they live in a Toys ‘R’ Us warehouse.
Between Freecycle, charity shops, and school jumble sales, there are plenty of people and places that will be grateful for your unwanted toys. Organisations such as The Toy Project give your toys to kids who need them, as does The Teddy Trust.
But remember – only donate stuff that is in good working order, ready to be played with or sold on. Otherwise, you’re just passing on rubbish and creating a task for people who could really do without it.
4. Recycle Them.
Some toys can be outright recycled, although Recycle Now advises dismantling them as best you can, particularly to separate things like batteries and battery packs. You should also go to a recycling centre, rather than just putting them in your green bins. This might sound like a lot of effort but on the other hand, breaking stuff is pretty fun.
5. Sell Them.
Ebay! Gumtree! Car boot sales! Everyone could use a few extra quid (and a bit more space), and it gives you the knowledge that toys are actually being played with, rather than being all sad and forgotten like in Toy Story. Plus, you might be sitting on a goldmine – there are crappy-looking action figures in demand by collectors that change hands for thousands.