Spring is here, and with it, the need for a good spring cleaning. It's time to declutter, and for most of us that means unloading unwanted toys. Kids amass so many playthings, it’s impossible to manage them all. And as your kids' tastes change, their old toys collect dust on the shelves, under the bed, scattered throughout every room...
Here are a few different ways to get rid of your kids’ castoffs and discover all the floor space you've been missing.
Tom’s of Maine #LessWasteChallenge: Tom’s of Maine and the recycling experts at TerraCycle have created the #LessWasteChallenge, a toy recycling program which aims to reduce waste. The great thing is, they'll take your broken toys and recycle them so they don’t wind up in the trash. All you have to do is grab a free UPS shipping label from tomsofmaine.com/lesswaste, fill a box with up to 10 pounds of broken toys, affix the label and drop at UPS. Simple!
CPS/Public Agencies: In many areas, foster agencies and/or CPS will pick up gently used toys, stuffed animals and gaming systems for foster children. Check your region for program specifics. In Los Angeles, the Department of Social Services has a nonprofit called Toy Loan, which accepts new and gently used toys.
Brick Recycler: Genius. Mail your pieces (in sets or mixed up) via UPS or FedEx, and Brick Recycler will sort and distribute them to children in need. They’ve sent those little plastic bricks of goodness everywhere from Zimbabwe to Flint, Michigan. Another great group distributing LEGOs is Play Well Africa, which sends the building bricks to educational environments in Uganda, Kenya and Botswana. Save your feet and bring joy to children. Win-win!
Toy Swaps: Moms Club chapters usually host swaps throughout the year. Can’t find an organization hosting? Set one up yourself! Get the word out and invite parents to drop off their goods at your place ahead of time. On the day of, set out the toys and let everyone choose what they’d like! Swaps are great because you can surrender the things your kids no longer play with and grab a few new-to-them toys. Just don’t invite your kids to the swap; they don’t need to see who was actually behind their giant stuffed unicorn’s disappearance.
Online Neighborhood Groups: Facebook neighborhood groups and sites like NextDoor let you advertise free (or for sale) items to your neighbors, a nice way to keep things local.
Local Refugee Organizations: Groups helping refugees resettle often accept gently used toys. There’s a great organization in my Los Angeles neighborhood called Miry's List, and they create Amazon lists based on the needs of new arrivees, but they also take pre-loved items. Fill out an item donation form, and get your things rehomed.
Amazon’s Give Back Box: Amazon has teamed up with Goodwill to launch a new program, Give Back Box. After you unpack your Amazon purchase, fill up the cardboard shipping box with your unwanted household items, including toys. Then go to GiveBackBox and print a free shipping label. UPS or USPS will deliver your box of donations to Goodwill! Easy-peasy.
Memorialize Your Stuff: Maybe you (or your kids) have a sentimental attachment to some of that clutter. Perhaps you’d like to remember art projects, but not keep every single thing that comes home from school. New company 4ever Bound will turn piles of your kids’ paintings, notes, drawings, etc. into a neat hardcover book. Likewise, Project Repat takes your old baby & children’s clothing and creates a keepsake quilt! Even more space freed up with no guilt over tossing out special childhood items.