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giving old toys a second life


organic baby toys 

What to do with your kids’ old toys?

As kids grow up, they outgrow their previously beloved playthings; it’s a fact of life.  While you may want to hang onto a few sentimental favorites, there are probably plenty of old toys that you’d like to get out of your house.  But how best to get rid of them in practical, responsible, earth-friendly ways?

There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer on how to recycle old toys and games.  Some are made of materials that aren’t readily recyclable, and others may be beyond their useful lives as hand-me-downs.  But we’ve compiled a few suggestions and resources to help you get a head start on spring-cleaning!

Is the toy in good condition?

1) Consider donating it locally.

Whether you’re looking to get rid of one well-cared-for stuffed animal, or an entire set of “Star Wars” LEGOs, or a whole closetful of treasures, there are plenty of community organizations you might offer them to.  A quick call to local churches, hospitals, and shelters is bound to yield a taker.

2) If you can’t find a local organization that has a need, try a national one.  Use their websites to find a donation site or upcoming drive near you.

Check out Goodwill.  (Or other consignment or thrift shops in your neighborhood.)

Try Toys for Tots.  Especially around the winter holidays, but your local community may have needs throughout the year as well.

Donate to Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (S.A.F.E.).  Find a local chapter, mail in your donation, or start your own drive for this organization that collects various items to benefit kids during emergency situations such as fires, illness, accidents, neglect, abuse, homelessness and severe weather.

3) Post your items on Freecycle or Craigslist.  There may be someone in your community who could get some use out of them.

4) If you can’t find a way to pass the toy along, check to see if your municipal recycling programs will accept the items you are looking to get rid of.   If the toy has electronic components, explore your county’s e-waste recycling initiatives.

Is the toy broken or otherwise beyond its useful life?

1) Get creative.  Even if a toy or game is broken or missing a few pieces, it might have possibilities for crafting or otherwise upcycling.  Let your creativity run wild!

2) Break it down and recycle what you can.  Worse comes to worse, recycle what you can through your municipal channels.  Remove batteries and electronics and separate any materials you can, for sorting and proper disposal.

We hope these ideas will help as you aim to purge your house of old and no-longer-needed toys.  When you give your child’s old playthings a new life you do good by your community and the earth!


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