23 October 2006

Can we call it "regoodie-ing"?

Here's how Jill redirects the flow of junky toys back out of the house:

Too many trinkets from birthday party goodie bags?   We now have a box of them, plus the "treasure chest" rewards from the dentist and the teacher and the July 4th parade, and everyone else....  I keep them around for a week or so, and as soon as they become trash underfoot and are no longer used for play I toss them in a junk box.  Some of them are fun in the car for road trips, but most of them are just accumulating.  Well, my husband's idea is to recycle them.  In other words, give them back.  I figure the teacher won't mind help in stocking her treasure chest, so I've now got a bag of "goodies" to share with her.  Will my son recognize anything in her treasure chest?  I hope not; I've only collected pretty generic stuff.  I won't give back things this year that he collects this year, but my junk pile will at least have space for the new stuff.  Maybe his brother's teacher will have a "treasure chest" too and we can swap it back and forth!

UPDATE: Some of these toys may even contain toxics, including lead.

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» Stemming the tide of junk toys from Lifehacker
Parent Hacks has some good suggestions for what to do with that mounting pile of "junk toys" that kids get from goodie bags, the Chuck E. Cheese toy counter, etc. I keep them around for a week or so,... [Read More]

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I have only had this happen a few times so far, but am sure it will grow as my daughter gets older. The tactic I'm trying to implement is to simply say, "I'm sorry, but no we don't want one." Of course, this is also easier with a younger child since they don't know what's happening! But I have successfully done it at a fast food restaurant and a garage sale. Then, I try to remember to always have a toy or book with us for my daughter to play with instead.

Great idea!! Now for a seasonal extension of it: how about using these for Halloween treats? I would rather my kid have another cheesy toy than candy .... I think ...

My daughter's preschool asks families to save things like that for their anual fair. The toys are used as prizes for the kiddie games.

My parents system involved keeping a large stock of toys boxed neatly away in the loft (attic) with only so many toys as were practical on the shelves for use. Every few months we would have a "toy shop" in which the boxes would be brought down and I could trade whatever I wanted, but only so long as it fitted on the shelves.

Once I got bored of the current batch of toys, I'd ask for another toy shop so I could switch to new ones again. This kept everything feeling new so I didn't mind so much when they got rid of things. They could also see which toys I wasn't really using, because they'd always stay in the loft.

We have a Plastica Art Project....where we heat up the feet of said toys and stick them to a board that runs the length of the twin's room. They love that thing!

Every year, seemingly without fail, my wife and I hold a garage sale to try to clear some room for more potential garage sale items. One of the things we like to do is to have a kiddie section with all of these happy meal-ish toys in totes with a pathetically low price (such as 3 for a nickel) and let our 5 yr old run that section. For one thing, it keeps our daughter occupied, for another parents can browse without having munchkins hound them too much as they are busy playing. I typically will end up letting the kids take what they want and the toys are no longer ours to worry about. Plus, our daughter gets to keep any money she earns as a salesperson to buy more toys. Win Win!

There is a charity in town which runs physical therapy for children with spina bifida etc. (www.cpkidscenter.com) They ask parents to save these type toys (still in wrappers) for them. They use them as prizes to help encourage small children to work hard during physical therapy. Best use I've found yet.

If they could stand up to the dishwasher (to sanitize them) you could throw them in party favor bags at the next birthday or donate them to the local WCA or safehouse for women and children.

As a chemist, I strongly urge you NOT to heat up these toys or put them in the dishwasher. The heat (and sometimes the detergent) can release carcinogenic chemicals, depending on the type of plastic. Also, toys made in China are often made with plasticizers that have certain pthalates shown to mimic hormones and cause developmental problems in animals. These plasticizers release into the environment (like your kid's mouth) even without heat -- you know that new plastic toy smell? That's plasticizer. Sorry to be alarmist, but those toys are cheap for a reason. Until they are made from safe and recycled/able material (Cradle-to-cradle plastics), the fewer of these toys you expose your kid to, the better.

Your kid must be very young. Older children will notice the loss of their toys and may even recognize them in the school goodie box.

Jill here: My son is five- and the stuff I'm talking about doesn't even qualify as "toys". Its all the nonsense that shows up in goodie bags from parties- and very generic stuff. Really it just belongs in the trash. If he recognizes something in the school treasure chest it could easily be a duplicate. A slinky is a slinky.

As for real toys- I rotate them regularly and sell or give away things they seldom use. As a former preschool teacher I found that the reappearance of a toy that's been gone a while makes it much more fun. Also, small quantities of things like lego and bristle blocks are sometimes used for play more in smaller quantities. Large containers seem to lean more toward the game called "dump the bucket" and less toward play.

We get rid of some of them when we geocache. (Of course, we also get some new ones, but the attraction of these bits of plastic is their novelty...)

These cheap toys, flowing from fast-food places and dollar stores, encourage a 'throw away' consumerist mentality. Children are trained to seek out novelty in low-value, transient objects.

This leads to a lifestyle of waste, and an attitude that the things that we own should not be maintained, but replaced when they are broken.

I would rather that my children have far fewer toys and 'things', but that their posessions have high value and durability.

Junk food, junk toys; these encourage wasteful consumption. The cheap toys are, like the fast food they come with, empty of real nutrition for the mind and spirit.

Best to eat real food in moderate quantities, and play with real toys that last.

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