I grew up relatively spoiled, I must admit. Though I was raised in a middle income household, my collection of toys looked fit for a prince, and boy did I enjoy playing with everything in my room. However, as time rolled on, I, like all boys of a certain age, stopped pulling the wooden train sets, LEGO blocks, and Tonka trucks off the shelf.
Eventually, I outgrew the toys that catered to my early imagination. Years later, as my closet space grew scarcer and scarcer, I decided I wanted to recycle those toys (along with my old clothes, bed sheets, any anything else I wasn’t using any longer).
My problem was, I didn’t know how to recycle toys – or if I even should. After all, they aren’t exactly easy to recycle, since most toys are made with multiple materials, unlike other items such as magazines, dinnerware, and old bookshelves, which normally contain a primary material.
Besides, how can anybody throw a perfectly good toy into a curbside container? Especially after watching all three of Disney’s Toy Story movies, I just get a bad feeling about tossing my old toys aside like yesterday’s newspaper!
Ways To Recycle Toys
There are plenty of ideas for recycling your toys besides throwing them into the garbage bin. Some of the alternatives I like best include:
#1 – Donate toys to a charity.
Every year over the course of several spring cleanings, I made trips to the local Salvation Army or church charity to drop off whatever toys I was no longer playing with. Of course, I wouldn’t donate everything I no longer wanted, as some of my toys simply were no longer in good condition, and I don’t think any children would want to be playing with dirty action figures or broken wind-up toys. So, I only donated clean, working toys. In hindsight, I have now also learned that these donations can usually be used as tax deductions. But, I didn’t think much about Uncle Sam when I was 13.
#2 – Sell toys at a consignment shop.
Some of my ride-on toys, large plastic toys sets (such as an indoor tree house), and toddler toys were organized and cleaned, and then offered at a local consignment shop. Within two weeks, all the items had been sold, and my family earned about $100 for the dozen or so toys which had been in storage for a few years.
#3 – Sell your toys in a rummage sale.
Up to hosting a yard sale? If you do, you can unload your unwanted toys right in the comfort of your home and make a little money (hopefully) in the process. Or, you could offer them as part of a multi-family or community sale. Whichever way you choose to sell your childhood playthings, offering them to others who want them is a great way to recycle your toys and ensure they will wind up in a good home.
#4 – Give your old toys away to another child.
Perhaps you have a young neighbor or have a colleague at work who has a child. If so, then why not give your old toys away to them? I gave many of my toys to friends who I thought would like what I had. As for my prized LEGO collection, that went to one of my dad’s work friends, who has a young son who is just crazy about the plastic, interlocking building blocks.
#5 – Keep old toys for the next generation.
I think everybody has a toy they simply cannot part with. For me, it’s my collection of BRIO wooden trains, which I acquired over several years during my early youth. While I intend to keep these simple, beechwood train sets that were manufactured in Sweden, they will still be recycled. I hope to pass them onto the next generation, so that my future child or children can enjoy them as much as I did. And what better way to recycle your toys than to let your own children receive joy from the same things you played with growing up?
When you recycle your old toys, you not only help keep perfectly usable items out of your local landfill, but you also help reduce the consumption of natural, raw resources that would be used to produce new toys. Plus, children who receive hand-me-down toys may, in turn, do the same.
Like so many things in society, being environmentally responsible is something that will become more second nature for our world as future generations come along. Remember, today’s green kids become tomorrow’s green adults.