How to declutter your children’s toy collection

Accumulating toys and new playthings is pretty much inevitable over the Christmas and summer holidays. We all like to reward and treat our kids and provide them with fun and educational sources of entertainment. And toys and playtime are an essential part of the growth and development of our children. 

But giving our little ones an abundance of toys can have its downsides. Not only does it create more clutter in our houses, once out-grown or worn out, but many of the items that make their way into the toy cupboard will also one day end up as rubbish. This is because the majority of toys can’t be recycled because they’re typically made of a variety of complex materials, hard and soft, including different kinds of plastic and metal. 

If you’re looking to start the year fresh, we have some great tips to help you declutter and take a fresh approach to your kid’s toys, without negatively impacting the environment. Throwing away old toys should be a last resort! 

There are five different categories that you can separate your old  toys into:

  1. The keep pile

We understand that some toys will have sentimental value, and you may not be quite ready to part ways with them. These may be the toys that you want to hold onto in case you grow your family, or you want to gift to your children’s children. We all have these special toys and it’s absolutely fine to keep them in circulation. 

  1. Donate or rehome

The flipside of toy clutter is no toys to give.  It’s important to teach our children the importance of helping others and donating toys to less privileged families.

Make sure the items you set aside for donation are in relatively good condition. They may be missing the packaging or a piece of the set, but make sure you are donating something that will bring joy to others.

When you have gathered your Donate or Re-home items, pay a visit to your local Vinnies or Red Cross, who will accept toys that are in a fit state to go to a new home. You can also find a local community daycare centre or toy library that is looking for donations of good quality items to keep in reserve.

  1. Giveaway or sell

There will always be items that are outgrown or overlooked that are still in fantastic condition. These items are perfect to hand down to friends or family or school community members who have children in the appropriate age group.

If you are looking for some pocket money, this is also the pile to consider for re-selling. Facebook Marketplace is easy to use and you can promote the items on your personal Facebook page. Gumtree is also a good platform to use, particularly for larger items such as bikes and playhouses. Get the kids involved in cleaning and presenting the items for resale so they can appreciate the value of their toys. They will soon see how rewarding it can be to take care of things and send them on for others to enjoy. 

  1. Recycle

Well-loved toys won’t always make it into the donation pile. But that doesn’t mean they have to end up in landfill. When your toys are too far gone to go to a new home, you can visit TerraCycle to check out some of our toy recycling programs.

If you live in Australia, TerraCycle has toy recycling programs for kids’ all-time favourites, including PAW Patrol toys and L.O.L Surprise! toys. By signing up for these programs you can create a responsible end-of-life option for these toys. What’s more, when you collect and recycle toys in these programs, you can earn TerraCycle Points, which can be redeemed and donated to a charity or organisation of your choice. 

TerraCycle also has formed a partnership with Australian retailer Big W, to help recycle pre-loved toys. These can be returned to participating BIG W stores around Australia, and placed in the collection unit at the front of the store.

In this program, you can recycle:

Accepted: 

  • All brands of plastic toys
  • All brands of metal toys
  • All brands of electronic toys with batteries removed
  • All brands of plush toys

Not Accepted:

  • Books
  • Board games
  • Wooden toys
  • Play-doh, paint and slime
  • Pens, pencils, crayons or paint brushes
  • Oversized toys such as bikes, scooters, skateboards or sports toys such as soccer goals

If you live in an area without a toy recycling option, reach out to your local toy store – or to your children’s favourite toy brand – and encourage them to start recycling. 

  1. Bin

Once you’ve followed all of the steps above, you may find there’s very little that makes its way into the bin. 

Those items that do are generally toys that can’t be recycled or are too damaged to be rehomed or items that can’t be accepted in one of our recycling programs (such as a bike).

Sadly, these items will be too far gone and may end up in landfill. One way to limit the landfill load is to carry out regular checks on the toy stash, to stop them from collecting dust in a cupboard and to give them a new life.

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