Landfills: An Un-bear-able End for Stuffed Animals
Like any full-grown adult woman, I love stuffed animals! OK, maybe not like any full-grown adult, but over the years I amassed a collection that would put a toy store to shame. And because I’ve watched Toy Story a few too many times, I believe our toys come to life when we’re not looking—I couldn’t possibly just throw them away!
Several years ago, I finally faced the music and realized I needed to pare down my stuffed animal collection. Luckily, I live near a children’s hospital. I put all my new and gently used stuffed animals in a bag and brought them to the hospital—I was kind of a female version of Santa, but I didn’t wear a red suit. The hospital staff was very grateful! And, just like I gave toys to the children’s hospital that day, I’m going to give you some tips on how to donate or responsibly get rid of your old toys, or your children’s old toys.
Make It a Game
Get your kids involved in the paring-down process. If you explain that donating gently used toys to charity helps other children feel happiness and comfort, they will be happy to jump on board. Help your kids set a goal for how many toys they are willing to part with. It can be a great opportunity for children to learn compassion, how to waste less, and how to keep a tidy toy box.
When to Mend, When to Send (to the Trash)
It’s best to figure out which toys are in good enough condition to pass along to someone else. If you have a broken or dirty toy, try to fix it and clean it. Your kids might realize they still want to play with it, but if it’s totally broken or beyond cleaning, it’s likely no one else wants it either. Sadly, it might be time to throw that toy away for good.
Decide which organization you’d like to donate your toys, stuffed animals, or games to. Check with places like the Goodwill, your local thrift shop, local shelters, preschools, churches, or hospitals. Always check with the organization first to find out what they do and do not accept before you drive up with a truck bed full of toys. Hospitals, in particular, often want brand-new toys for health/sanitary reasons.
Swap that Stuff
Toys can also be recycled through special programs like the ones listed on Earth911.com, which is one of our favorite go-to environmental resources. Another idea is to set up a toy swap with kids at school, in your neighborhood, or with family members. It can be a fun way to get kids to share and trade for toys they want without you having to hit the store and spend money.
Finally, remember why you’re donating toys in the first place: To help less fortunate children, prevent waste, and reduce clutter in your home. The purpose is not to just get rid of them, but rather thoughtfully pass them on.