Every Mum, Dad, Aunt and Uncle has spent Christmas morning disgorging new toys from packaging that seems to require an engineering degree to battle through – cardboard, twist ties, plastic straps, tape (which go straight in a bin) – then watch the kids play with the toy for 20 minutes before abandoning it for something different.
Ever stopped to think about the environmental impact of this, taking place under Christmas trees right across the world?
And then add in the birthdays, Eids, Hannukahs and non-occasional toy purchases that go on throughout the rest of the year.
Google is full of frightening statistics about the impact of toys – such as 90% of toys being plastic, 40% of Christmas gift toys are broken before next Christmas and 40 million toys thrown away every year – accurate or not, the magnitude of these figures surely makes you think! Think of the dodgy plastic toys accrued through supermarket giveaways, take-away meal bonuses, bribes and rewards… Every Mum secretly purges the toy box once in a while, getting rid of the forgotten and broken toys – most going to landfill.
There has to be a better way.
And there is.
Firstly, let’s stop and think about the toys we buy:
- How many toys does one kid really need?
- Is it good quality?
- Is it made from sustainable materials with minimal packaging?
- Will it become a ‘favourite’ or is it just a passing fad?
- Will it grow with the child?
Secondly, we can avoid buying in the first place?
Think hand-me-downs, garage sales and a non-purchased alternative – remember how much fun a big cardboard box can be?
Or being allowed to climb a tree?
Or tickle-wrestling on the living room rug?
Make your own toys from egg-cartons, fabric and twigs perhaps, or swap toys with other families.
And then there’s the magnificent Toy Libraries!
Finding our local Toy Library was like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!
For a very low annual family membership fee (only $60 at Katanning Toy Library) both my kids have unlimited access to a huge range of toys – there are 452 different toys, bikes, puzzles and games at Katanning Toy Library alone!
- The toys are high quality, so they last years and many many kids, saving on packaging, landfill, production impacts, transport emissions and money.
- The children move through the toys as they grow in age without accumulating a pile of outgrown toys at home – each one is returned for another child to enjoy.
- Getting a ‘new’ toy each fortnight keeps them excited and stimulated.
- There’s no packaging to go in the bin at home.
- Toy Library is a social experience, providing the opportunity to meet other young families.
If you have small kids, get yourself a local Toy Library membership – the kids and the planet will both love you for it!
Check out the local Katanning Toy Library here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/437260776285291/
Author: Ella Maesepp
Since 2003, Ella has been Ella is a keen advocate of the important role of individuals in tackling climate change and environmental degradation. She runs Katanning Eco-House, a domestic sustainability business based around her own family home and is also a Climate Media Centre Spokesperson, where she provides professional insight into a wide range of environmental topics.