Zero Waste: The Toy Issue

Having a daughter means that toys are going to be needed, either homemade or bought. Whereas wooden toys are a great choice and I personally love them, plastic toys are a reality hard to avoid. I tried avoiding them, but I do not always control what she gets, family members, whether well intentioned or not, will give presents to children and once they sees them, you are forced to keep them.

I think that it is important to develop in children the habit of looking after their possession so toys and clothes can be handed-over or re-sell. Tip: Keep the packaging if you are planning on re-selling them, people usually like them better that way.

Plastic toys are not necessarily evil, my mother-in-law kept toys from my husband,and now my daughter uses them and I utterly adore it. I think is important because it highlights the idea that products can last a long time when properly care for.

One thing you shouldn’t do is get angry or frustrated when someone gives your children something that is not in line with your vision. Take it as a time to teach your children something valuable, even if it is only tolerance. I’ve tried explaining my family the way I want things to be done, but they act as children and do the exact opposite just to annoy me. The other way of thinking that I’ve found is to believe that we want second-hand or no-stuff just because we can’t afford them, which translates into more presents.

To minimize the presence of commercials is vital. The more children see, the more they want. If you want your child to watch TV, consider a subscription on Netflix, Youtube Kids is great but there are adds.

Another thing to consider is toy-rotation. You know how children play one day with something and they love it oh so much and then it is left in a corner to accumulate dust? Well, we avoid it by rotating her toys. We do not follow a schedule, we are attentive to the way she plays and when she stops using a toy, we introduce a “new” one. Sometimes she picks it, sometimes we pick it. In the mean-time we store them in boxes so she can’t see them, seeing is wanting. She has some toys that are always there, like the construction blocks and some Teddy bears.

We love the Montessori pedagogy, we send her to a Montessori kindergarden, so she has everything organized in shelves. This is very practical because children see the toys and take better care of them. After Sigrid is done playing she places them back in their space, obsessively sometimes. If toys are placed in trunks and children just turn it around to see what’s inside, breakage is more likely.

Sometimes zero-waste recommendations are about the material toys are made of or buying second-hand. I think that how we take care of items is also important, even for toys. It is also important to buy organic and fair-trade. In many countries child-labor is still allowed.

I love wooden toys but part of modern life need modern toys, mostly made of plastic. She does not have the right age yet but most toys that teach coding are made of plastic. It is my belief that knowing how to code is going to be a skill needed in the future. So instead of saying “you are just going to play with sticks and stones”, I rather buy her the coding-teaching toy, take proper care of it and then re-sell it to some other coding-obsessed parent. :).