Monique Tait

Monique Tait

Mar 2, 2024. 4 mins read

Sustainability

Say Goodbye to Toy Clutter with These 5 Smart Hacks

While the importance of play in a child’s development is undeniable, the environmental footprint left behind when we bid farewell to the toys they've outgrown also can’t be understated.

According to studies done by the Yale School of Environment, 80% of toys are in landfills. If that’s not enough to make you want to poke a burning rod into your eyeball, a staggering 35% of the approximately 9 billion kg of e-waste is from toys. Yes, it's as absurd as it sounds – race car sets, electric trains, music toys, talking dolls, and all those electronic wonders amount to a mind-boggling 7.3 billion discarded items. Every. Single. Year.

Toys at the Lanfill Rubbish Site

So, how do we, as individuals, help tackle this toy sustainability epidemic? Can us busy parents really help lower these stats? The good news answer is that we most certainly can – by following these 5 simple steps as the battle plan to kick toy waste to the curb.

1. Think Before You Buy

Impulse toy purchases – we've all fallen victim to the siren song of the toy aisle, Aldi special buys here, $5 Kmart toy there... but before adding another member to your toy family, ponder the profound question: "Do we really need this?"

Although it’s sometimes easier said than done, avoiding purchasing new toys where possible makes the biggest difference in the long term. Practise saying ‘no’ to your child when they bug you for a new toy and offer them a simple explanation about waste. If they are used to getting little things here and there, your ‘no’ could actually kickstart some changes in their mindset and learning financial literacy – parenting win! 

Buying second hand toys supports the circular economy by keeping products in use longer, but if you need to purchase new toys, consider the materials they are made from and opt for sustainable toys and eco-friendly materials that won't outlast the pyramids. Avoid plastic as much as possible. Items like pool toys and inflatable unicorns may seem like a summer necessity for a trip to the beach or pool, but consider the longevity of that splashy purchase. Once they are discarded, they could take a thousand years to break down. A THOUSAND YEARS!

Keep in mind that every thoughtful purchase is a tiny victory in the war against toy waste – and, of course, a step towards a clutter-free home.

2. Join a Toy Library

One of the simplest and best things you can do for the environment as a parent of young children is to join forces with a toy library – the unsung parenting heroes. As a member, you can access a rotating inventory of age-appropriate kids toys, borrow them, and return them when your kids are bored of playing with them.

Toy lending reduces waste by creating a cycle of constant reuse. Excellent for the environment and excellent for increasing space in your home. Plus, you'll be part of a toy community committed to saving the planet, one borrowed toy at a time.

3. Experiences Over Things

Your child's birthday can be an anxiety-provoking time when you’ve committed to becoming a warrior on waste. You want to give them an epic party with all their friends and family. But your heart sinks when you think about all the presents and plastic junk that will end up at your house afterwards.

The first step to minimising what you might eventually put into landfill is preventing the potential waste from entering your home in the first place. Your kid doesn't need another plastic monstrosity to add to the toy collection. Instead, ask guests for experiences. A voucher to the local ice cream shop, a trip to the play centre, a day at the zoo or a movie ticket. 

Don’t feel bad about it, either. Memories trump material possessions, and experiences create lasting ones that even the coolest action figure can't compete with. It's the gift that keeps on giving, minus the waste.

4. Donate Like a Pro

What's old to your little one could be a treasure for someone else. You can donate toys to local op shops or charitable organisations like St Kilda Mums. Declutter, make someone's day, and save the planet – it's a triple win! Recycling toys instead of throwing them away is a major component of the circular economy.

5. Support Eco-Warrior Companies

Enter the Avengers of the recycling world – companies like TerraCycle. Support those on a mission to tackle environmental issues, including recycling toys. It's like supporting the rebels in the war against waste – only cooler. Check out Closed Loop, who are pioneering the ‘circular economy ‘ and other eco-warriors like Ploys, who repurpose plastic into a bunch of trendy bag products, and give a virtual high-five to those fighting the good fight.

We get it. Dealing with toy waste can be a royal pain in the buttock. With toddlers having attention spans shorter than a TikTok video, it's no surprise that the coolest toys become ancient history quicker than you can say 'clean-up time.' 

But when we zoom out globally, each one of us must contribute to handling things we no longer want. This isn't just about us; it's a vital lesson for our kids to learn about sustainability, too. We can keep our beautiful planet thriving if we all do our little part. We believe in you!

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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