Children grow up so quickly that it can be difficult to keep up with their changing needs for clothing and stimulating toys. Are the corners and cupboards of your house filled to the brim with old toys that your child no longer plays with? Don't automatically reach for the bin; there may be other options to give these toys a new lease on life without clogging the local landfill!
(Image Source: Image: © Nevit Dilmen found at Wikimedia commons)
Store them for future use.
Are you thinking of having a few more munchkins down the road? If so, toys that are still in semi-decent condition could be worth packing away for later. You can save a bundle of money on your future bundle of joy by washing and storing toys in an airtight container. It's best to store toys in a dry area of the home to prevent mildew, but you'll need to give them a good washing again when they're ready for reuse to get the dust off.
Donate them to charity.
Even if you don't plan on expanding your family, someone else's child could get good use out of your old toys. Package up old toys and donate them to the local charity shop, nursery, or homeless shelter. With the rate at which children are given new toys, it's a shame to waste slightly used ones that could become well-loved by another child. You may also be able to write off your donation on your taxes at the end of the year while reducing clutter!
Transform them into something new.
If your old toys are in less-than-perfect shape, they may not be worth donating. Yet this doesn't mean it's the end of the line for them. Think about getting creative and seeing these old toys in a new light. Is there another way that the toy could be used? Is it made of raw materials that could be used to create something new? Old books could be used for craft projects, or plastic figurines could be glued together to create a new monster. Ask your child for input if you're feeling less than inspired; children often see the world in different ways.
Do you want to turn those old toys into cash? If your toys are in excellent shape, or are old collectibles, they may be worth money. Try selling them to a consignment shop or putting them up on local listings sites like Craigslist or Quicksales. Another option is to hold an old-fashioned garage sale for the neighbours.
Swap them with your friends.
Do you have friends with children? Try organizing a swap of old toys and clothes. Invite your friends over, prepare a few party refreshments, and encourage them to bring along old toys and clothes to throw into the pot. Everyone can then choose to take new pieces away while getting rid of their pre-loved items. This ends up being a win-win situation, particularly for friends who have children in slightly different stages of development.
If a toy is simply beyond repair, incapable of being upcycled or given away, there's one final option before throwing it away. Check its list of components to see if it could be recycled. If you're unsure, call or email the manufacturer. Electronic toys in particular can often be recycled, as can old books or plastics.
These are just a few ideas to help give your old toys a new lease on life, whether it's in the happy arms of another child or broken down into key components for recycling!