What To Do With Plastic Toys?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I am sure many of us are bracing for the onslaught of plastic, low-quality, single-purpose, overly-commercialized toys that these holidays inevitably bring. Despite our gentle urgings, it is often challenging to prevent such toys from entering our homes from well-meaning family members and friends.

In my early mothering days, I didn't pay much attention to which toys and clothing entered my home. But then I started to see how overly commercialized toys, gifts, and apparel, often linked to popular kids' television shows, began to infiltrate my children's play. Instead of allowing them to imagine their own play scenes with certain characters, they relied upon scripted actions influenced by media outlets and large toy manufacturers. I also noticed that plastic, single-purpose toys limited their imagination compared with simple, multi-purpose toys, like wooden blocks and generic figurines. I began donating bags and bags of lower-quality toys, thus simplifying our playspace, and noticed large gains in the quality of imaginative, child-conjured play my children exhibited. (I recommend the books Taking Back Childhood, by Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Born to Buy, by Juliet Schor, and Simplicity Parenting, by Kim John Payne, to read more about simplifying childhood play and rejecting commercialized children's products.)

I now try to provide guidance and suggestions on gift-giving and then bite my tongue act graciously when these gifts still seem to arrive. Some of them we play with for awhile and then giveaway to our city playgrounds that are filled with toys for common use. Others we giveaway to local charities. But the key word here is *giveaway*!

Check back here next week for a generous *giveaway* to Bella Luna Toys, a Maine-based, natural, waldorf-inspired toy company, and replace those unwanted holiday toys with top-quality toys from Bella Luna!


  1. This is our first Christmas as parents - we're not sure what our daughter will be getting from his parents (my parents have designated themselves as the Quality Book Suppliers in Boo's life which is fantastic) and I have to say, my anticipation is tinged with apprehension... We don't have room to keep a million-billion plastic toys in our apartment!

  2. Yes, we feel the same way! Small city spaces get much smaller when we keep lots of plastic toys in them! Wishing you a very happy holiday!


  3. We do the same as you...we have a small home in the city as well, as my girls (at 5 and 7) are used to a routine "clean-out" where we down-size our toys before birthdays, holidays, and "just because". It feels good to pass along our things, and we all breathe a bit easier with more space. I also am famous for snagging toys (that come in the mail) before the kids ever see them, and return them, or save them for Toys for Tots etc, if it is not something that the kids will truly enjoy/I think is a worthy addition. Thanks for the great post...always a work in progress around here! Happy holidays!

  4. Thanks so much for your comment, Urban Schooling! It seems many of us are dealing with this issue of unwanted toys during the holidays, and we all have our giveaway go-tos! Thanks for reading and happy holidays to you!! -Kerry