Monique Tait

Monique Tait

Jul 31, 2023. 4 mins read


Embracing the Circular Economy for Toys: Building a Sustainable Toy Community

In today’s world, where environmental concerns and our children’s futures are at the forefront of our minds, it is essential to explore sustainable practices in all aspects of our lives, including how we consume and dispose of toys.

volunteer kid cleaning the beach

The circular economy expert Ellen MacArthur Foundation says that there are three essential elements for creating a circular economy:

  1. Design out waste and pollution

  2. Keep products and materials in use

  3. Regenerate natural systems

The circular economy for toys offers a groundbreaking solution that reduces waste, fosters a sense of community, whilst also encouraging frugal living – a mindset that is wise to adopt with the rising cost of living.

In this article, we delve deeper into the concept of the circular economy for toys, looking at its benefits and highlighting the importance of toy sharing, preloved toys, toy maintenance and environmentally friendly options. And let’s be honest, the less bright plastic-coated paraphernalia in our house, the better!

The Toy Economy: A Paradigm Shift

The traditional toy approach involves a linear pattern, where products are produced, used, and often broken or discarded. However, the circular economy disrupts this pattern by promoting a system that eliminates waste and maximises resource efficiency. By adopting a circular toy model, we can create a sustainable toy economy that simultaneously benefits our planet and our wallets.

We can be more open-minded when we pass a secondhand store or visit used toy websites and apps as our first port of call when finding gifts. Adopting this new approach and changing our way of thinking around toys is a fantastic place to start if we want to instil sustainable values and ideologies in our children.

The Power of Toy Sharing

As a parent, how often do you find yourself saying ‘“Let them have a turn” or “You need to share now”? So surely, a circular toy economy reinforces these teachings at its very roots! 

Toy sharing is a central aspect of the circular economy for toys. Instead of each child owning an abundance of toys that might only be used sporadically, toy sharing allows for more efficient utilisation of resources.

Local toy libraries, toy-sharing initiatives and toy rentals/ subscriptions such as Brick Borrow for LEGO enable children to borrow LEGO for a period, providing them with variety and novelty while minimising waste. Toy sharing reduces the consumption of new toys and fosters a sense of community among children and parents, encouraging social interactions and collaborative play.

You can even share with a friend! Have you got a mum club through childcare or kindergarten or friends with children the same age? Every month, swap a box of toys, your children will love it, and it’s a nice feeling to help a friend. Suppose you already have too many toys in the cupboard, under the bed, behind the sofa, in the car and in your handbag.

In that case, you can also try some of Montessori’s toy rotations to get you in the flow! Here’s some of our top tips for toy rotation:

  • Aim for just 8-10 activities out in the playroom

  • Have a wide variety of activities that use different skills (i.e. stacking toys, puzzles, musical instruments, kitchen etc.)

  • Rotate the toys every week or two

  • Use the toy rotation as a time to clean the toys and play area

  • There are no set rules – do what works best for you and your child - get them involved!

Preloved Toys: A Treasure Trove

Another critical component of the circular toy economy is the promotion of preloved toys. Buying secondhand or donating preloved toys extends their lifespan and prevents them from ending up in landfills.

Parents can explore various avenues, such as online marketplaces, thrift stores, or community swap events, to find gently used toys in excellent condition. Preloved toys offer a cost-effective way to provide children with various play options while reducing waste and embracing the concept of frugal living.

Upcoming mobile apps like Sassybae can help you swap toys, clothes, and other kids’ stuff too! There’s a whole world of sustainable and circular options out there! Find out how sustainable fashion habits can create a green future for your children. If you pass on some of your own toys, you’ll need to ensure they stay in relatively good condition and are well maintained. This is a great habit to adopt and also encourages our children to look after their belongings.

If your child is slightly older and you are selling their toys secondhand, you could give them a cut of the earnings to encourage them to take care of their things. Or provide them with the responsibility of clearing up their toys. Here’s our top tips for getting your child to clear away their toys:

  1. Create a place for everything - storage boxes, pots and cupboards

  2. Demonstrate from a young age - be a role model

  3. Set clear expectations - be specific with your requests

  4. Make it a game - “I’ll time you!

  5. Frame it positively - explain the importance and give them a ‘why.’

  6. Don’t interrupt their play - wait for a natural break… and avoid a tantrum!

Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly Toy Choices

Within the circular economy for toys, selecting sustainable and environmentally friendly toys is crucial. Opting for toys made from recycled or biodegradable materials minimises the environmental impact and reduces the carbon footprint associated with their production. Additionally, eco-friendly toys often prioritise non-toxic and child-safe materials, ensuring the well-being of our little ones. Take a look at WWF’s suggestions for sustainable summer toys! And here are some of our favourite sustainable toys brands in 2023:

The Benefits of the Circular Economy for Toys

The circular economy for toys has numerous advantages for both individuals and society as a whole. Parents can save money by engaging in toy sharing while teaching their children about sharing, collaboration, and resourcefulness. Additionally, embracing preloved toys promotes a sense of gratitude and mindfulness regarding material possessions.

From an environmental perspective, the circular toy economy significantly reduces waste and is the practical and ethical choice. It contributes to a more sustainable future by conserving resources and reducing the need for new toy production. Read more on why toy swapping is now more important than ever.

We can build a toy community that encourages frugal living, resource efficiency, and environmental consciousness by engaging in toy sharing, exploring preloved options, and selecting sustainable toys. Together, let's pave the way for a more sustainable and joyful future for our children.

Monique Tait

Monique Tait

Mothering . Wife . Founder . Chicken Wing Aficionado .

When she's not scouring the city for the best fried chicken joint, she's busy being a parenting superhero, starting with her new toy swapping app called Sassybae. Because let's be real, what better way to show your love for your kids than by swapping out their old toys for new ones? Monique is on a mission to make parenting easier, one wing and one toy at a time.

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