Toy Waste: We All Have to Play Our Part

The plastic crisis is global, and becoming more infamous by the day. Our oceans are so choked with floating plastics that even the phytoplankton -- our greatest oxygen producers -- are fighting for survival. Without big lifestyle changes, we may be too. We may just be one tiny toy co., but we're part of a movement to help kids and families make a big impact. From toy manufacturers, to resale shops and thrift stores, to parents with purchasing power, to the kid working their own DIY yard sale, or turning down a "free" fast food toy, we all have a role to play.

Toy manufacturers and other big commercial producers have the potential to make a huge change. To do so, they need to prioritize streamlining production, to minimize waste from being generated. When it is generated, they must ensure that their cast-offs are disposed of responsibly. We had one such company reach out to us this week, seeking creative reuse partnership for pieces from discontinued games. Hurray! Every enterprise can be a "social enterprise," with the right connections and some creative thinking. The "big kids" on the block are also starting to produce games that use recycled materials and packaging. As consumers, parents can let them know that you value this by "voting" with your dollars. When consumers opt for recycled and responsibly made products, they send a clear message to manufacturers that stewardship for the earth matters. When green sells, companies are motivated to go green!

Resale and thrift stores, and community swaps are a great option for things you no longer need. When we say "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle," that is a ranked list. Reusing things takes no energy or industrial equipment. In fact, nothing that's still intact should need to be sent to landfill -- or even recycled -- when it can be reused. Thrift stores have a responsibility too. They need to be accountable for the things they don't resell -- the debris at the bottom of the bin, the bits and the pieces. Community swap event The Really Really Free Market, in Toronto's Campbell Park*, has reached out to us for help making sure that what's left at the end of the day doesn't land in the bin. Kudos! That's what we call doing good, better, best! What makes Tiny Toy Co. the first resale store of its kind is that our business model is entirely founded upon corralling toy debris back into something special, for creative reuse.

Kid Power: The biggest change sometimes comes from the smallest people. Kids have consumer power too! Our Tiny Toy Co. workshops help school and community groups of kids explore their power as change-makers, on the toy waste front. "What can we do? We're just little." Big things! Talk with your kids about:

  • Litterless Loot Bags: Give your birthday party guests a book, or a single unwrapped toy, instead of a bag full of future garbage. Or, skip the loot altogether and simply say "Thanks for coming. I had fun with you."
  • Opt for Fundraising, Experience, or Group Gift Parties: There are loads of online tools for coordinating your guests' generosity in honour of your special day.
  • Kiddie Meal Toys: At the restaurant, let your server know that you brought your own crayons, and at least check if the free giveaway toy is one you really want, before taking it out of habit.
  • Grew again? Donate your used toys, or set up a lawn sale with price tags that help you to save for something new. The toy debris under your couch, and games with missing pieces...well, we want those here at Tiny Toy Co. ;)

When businesses and consumers all think carefully about what comes into our manufacturing plants, stores, places of work and learning, and homes, and where to send what goes out, only then is real change possible. Us? We're just one tiny toy co., but together with all of you we can make a big difference.



Extend the Learning: Never heard of phytoplankton? You're not alone! Get the kids on board to learn more about this unsung hero of the sea and air, responsible for producing half the world's oxygen here.

*Follow @ReallyReallyFreeMarketToronto on Facebook to learn how you can get involved in this great zero waste initiative

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