Learn to be responsible
Kids nowadays are more exposed to the idea of environmental responsibility much earlier than when I was growing up. They are being taught the basics at home and at school, get to practice them in everyday life such as separating paper from plastic, turning off the tap when brushing their teeth, etc. By starting with the smaller things in life, hopefully that will help them to be constantly mindful of the limited resources in the world. But not all these daily activities can show them the immediate effect of their actions. Donating or sharing toys and books is a great way to get them involved in a less wasteful mindset and can help them understand easily how their actions can actually benefit someone else.
Sharing is caring
At a very young age, we started explaining to our children the concept of “sharing” toys with other kids. Apart from getting brand new toys from us and others, through the years, our kids have also been on the lucky receiving end of tonnes of wonderful books and toys from our friends and family with older kids. We periodically sit together with them to go through everything so they can be the ones to decide what they would like to pass on to other children who can be the next to enjoy them. To them, buying a new toy from the shop or receiving a hand-me-down toy from their cousins are just as exciting. They preferred the hand-me-down toys more at times because they used to belong to someone they knew, with that extra emotional link to them. In turn, when they grew a bit older, they are also very generous in passing along their possessions to other children because in their minds this is a normal “life-cycle” of toys and books!
Works of Art
However, sometimes the toys are “so loved” that they are no longer in shape to be given away, but the thought of them ending up in the landfill is just as troubling. Many creative parents give these toys a second life by turning them into craft materials and art pieces! Why not get the kiddies together, grab a glue gun and create something new from their old toys?
Give it a new life
There are many artists and toy lovers who make big efforts to give old toys a new beginning. For example, this BBC video interviewed someone who collects and restores old dolls to give them a "makeover" with lots of patience and then donate them to children. I am sure the new owners of these dolls would feel the love and attention the artist devoted to renewing them.
The other day I came across an article that mentioned the possibility to send old or broken toys back to the manufacturer, and in collaboration with a recycling company they can recycle them and make either new toys or other products out of them. This is such a great initiative, although it must be a costly operation and is only available in some countries. Hopefully, we will see more product companies globally to join in the effort of reducing waste by recycling or coming up with more creative ideas to tackle this problem. In the meantime, we do our best in our smaller reality by teaching our next generation to be as environmentally responsible as possible.