I recently took on a journey to start reducing our waste. By that I mean actually bringing less in not just recycling what we do buy in. Its a real process and an eye opening one at that!
Then there are toys…I don’t even know where to begin writing this. Just SO MANY TOYS!! For us having 2 children in a smaller house has meant we need to be mindful of our space.
My first request when there is an up and coming birthday is that we would prefer money than toys. Something that can be put away for a day out, their future or something they need later on. We have been given many toys that have sadly gone to charity or gifted on. I do not like the thought of people wasting money on something that isn’t played with. Secondly if they do buy toys, they are ones that we know the boys want or are a zero waste option such as wood, fabric or second hand.
Our eldest son is 4 and into certain characters so we would never deprive him of those toys (often made of plastic) But we limit them and only get the ones we know he will really get good play from. If he doesn’t want to play with them we will sell them or gift them on.
We recently created a Montessori inspire playroom and slowly replace all plastics, noisy, flashy toys with calmer, longer lasting wooden ones. I find that they use their imagination more with simple toys.
When we started the process, our youngest son was only 6 months old so it was important to create an area for him. We made a couple of sensory baskets using folding down seagrass baskets which can be made larger if need be. I just collected items around the house such as hairbrushes, wooden spoons, rattles, fabric, foil blankets , pinecones and nic nacs that were safe.
We do not eliminated all plastic toys if they are played with.
Overtime some toys were replaced with wooden versions such as a wooden kitchen, wooden train set, chopping toys and lots of other accessories that are made from better materials. Their pots and pans are stainless steel. Items like the train set are timeless and will be played with for many years to come.
We also got these beautiful wooden building blocks from myriad toys
They are so simple yet are hours of fun and really get their imaginations going.
I have also made them some zero waste needle felted food!! I have done a tutorial on this here. It is so much fun and so cheap also! Plus you can make all kinds of different toys. They really enjoy playing with them but Ikea also have a range of fabric food/toys too if you did not want to make your own! Melissa and Doug and Etsy are also good places to shop.
The charity shop and ebay are one of my favourite ways of buying pretty much anything but especially toys. You can find some real gems there and often people will donate items brand new and still with the label on.
Children can get really overwhelmed with lots of toys. We found when they have too many, lots go unplayed. We have found it is important to rotate them. This could be storing some away or even just moving the toy area about a bit. Visually they look at the area differently and will notice toys they don’t often play with. We move our toys around often, and move some from upstairs to downstair and visa versa.
I have to say zero waste is rather a bold statement. I would consider us a low waste family working towards zero waste but I don’t know that that will be possible. Toys we know will not be for long. Children grow up so quickly and though we may keep some items to pass on to future grandchildren, at least I know that our collection of items will not be sitting in landfill for very long.