Wondering what to do with your old wooden toys?
If you’re a parent, you know just how fast most kids outgrow their toys, or just lose interest.
Maybe your wooden toy got broken, chipped, or scratched and it’s no longer safe to play with. Or maybe you’re just trying to declutter your home, and you’ve decided spring cleaning starts now.
- Can I recycle wooden toys?
- Would anyone want to buy them?
- What else could I do with my old wooden toys?
Rest assured, you’ll find the answers you’re looking for in this post.
Responsible toy disposal is the right choice!
First, I’d like to say thanks and assure you you’re making the right choice. And here’s why:
- Americans buy more than $22 billion worth of toys every year.
- In the UK, 8.5 million brand new toys get thrown away each year.
- 1 in 3 parents throw away toys that are in perfect working condition.
- 10 million unwanted gifts get discarded each holiday season.
Who would have thought that children’s toys would contribute so much waste all across the world? These are facts about a toy disposal problem on a global scale. And it’s up to us to make responsible choices with our unused toys.
And the very fact that you’re here, searching for ways to repurpose your wooden toys means you’re a conscientious person. Lots of people would just toss the thing into the trash, without a second thought for the environment, or other people for that matter.
But you’re looking for responsible ways to reduce your family’s environmental footprint. So, thank you.
What should you do with your old wooden toys?
First things first. What condition is your wooden toy in? This is the big question to determine which options are available to you.
- If your toy is in good condition, you’re in luck. Reusing, reselling, and donating are easy solutions that are in the cards.
- If your toy is in poor condition, however, it’s time to get a little creative. But don’t worry. We’ll find a way!
There’s just one catch before we dive deep into the different options you have. We know how easy it is to become emotionally attached to your old toys. Remember, wooden toys often carry sentimental value for your child. Even if the toy is less-played-with now, do consider it may become a cherished keepsake when they grow older. It’s your choice. If you’re riding on a live-with-less wavelength, more power to you.
Regift, Resell, Recycle, or Repurpose?
The hardest part is getting started. But remember, you’re here with a purpose. It’s time to roll up your sleeves, dive into your dusty toy closet, and dig out those wooden toys that haven’t been played with in years.
You can do it. Just follow these steps:
- Gather round all the old wooden toys you’re trying to get rid of.
- Check each of them. Is anything broken or have missing pieces? Are there any sharp splintery edges? Is the paint faded or chipped?
- Sort them into two piles. One pile for toys that are good-as-new or still play-worthy. And the other pile for the toys that have really seen better days.
You did it! With your piles in place, you’re now ready to find a new path for your old toys! Out with the old, in with the new!
Good condition? Let’s find your old wooden toys a new home!
What’s great about wooden toys is they’re truly timeless. So if yours are still in good condition, or just need a little sprucing up, there are a few really convenient, painless ways to find a new home for them.
Be a pal. Regift your old wooden toys!
Hand-me-downs. If the only problem is that your child has grown too old for a toy, then I’m sure another kid would have just as much fun with it as your child used to.
Regifting. Dust it off, wrap it up, and your old toy will become someone else’s new treasure. It’s 2020, and there’s no shame in regifting. Second-hand toys are great! Your child having played with it just means, what was once just a product now has a story all of its own.
However you choose to give away your toy, simply passing along the toy to a new pair of curious hands is a great way to go. Whatever age is appropriate for the particular toy, think of a child in your family, extended family, neighborhood, or your child’s school — a kid who’d get just as much fun and learning out of the toy as your child once did.
Donations. Choosing to donate your old wooden toys means a child less fortunate will share in the same playtime experiences your child once did. Knowing that you offered help to a stranger also feels very rewarding.
First look local. In your city or town, there’s bound to be some organization that will gladly accept your second-hand wooden toys. Contact local charities, schools, or religious bodies. A common solution is Goodwill, which usually accepts lightly used wooden toys, and will resell your toy at reasonable prices.
If you can’t find any places to donate your wooden toys locally, hope on the internet and Google it. There’s bound to be a charity happy to accept your donated toys operating at the state, national, or even international level.
Looking to make a buck? Resell your old wooden toys!
Yard sale. As classic as wooden toys themselves, an old-fashioned garage sale is a great way two declutter your home and make a little extra cash. In a world full of sales tax, a nice haggle here and there is a lot of fun, too.
Resell online. If a yard sale makes you think of the 1950s, you’re not the only one. It’s 2020, and the internet is an indispensable tool to get things done.
Reselling online is perhaps the most convenient way to make a little bit of money with old wooden toys. Most second-hand marketplaces are easy to setup. Here are a few that make the most sense for wooden toys:
- eBay — Yes, eBay is still kicking! Actually, lots of parents regularly scout out used toys there. One nifty thing about Ebay is you can even list for $0.00 and ask the buyer pay for shipping — which is an option if all you’re more interested in decluttering than making money.
- Gumtree — Gumtree is a newer online thrift and consignment store. They’re more strict on quality than other sites, so make sure your old toy is in tip-top shape.
- Craigslist — More for urban areas, Craigslist is a grandfathered website where you can find local shoppers to buy your wooden toys online. One perk of being local is easier shipping, and the option to have the buyer pick it up in person.
- Facebook Marketplace — With all the other places to buy and sell online, Facebook Marketplace often gets overlooked. Since you’re connected to people you know on Facebook, posting your toy for sale there means shoppers will already know and trust you. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even reconnect with an old friend over your love for wooden toys.
Bad condition? Here’s how to recycle or repurpose your old wooden toys.
If your old toys have seen better days, consider making a project out of it. We all know how great wood is for building things. Even if your wooden toy isn’t what it used to be, that doesn’t mean you can repurpose it into something new and exciting.
How to repurpose your old wooden toys?
How could you refurbish, repurpose, and upcycle your old wooden toys? Here are a few ideas:
- Repaint them. If the paint’s peeling off or there are noticeable scratches, that’s nothing a new paint job won’t fix.
- Put them in your garden. Just because a toy’s too worn down for humans, doesn’t mean plants can’t play with them. Lot’s of wooden toys make excellent decorative pieces for an outdoor garden.
- Make crafts with them. If you use your imagination, some of those loose pieces might for an exciting craft project. User some string to make it into a memorable Christmas ornament to bring out each year. Or glue some magnets onto to make DIY wooden refrigerator magnets.
- Homemade jewelry. Wooden jewelry is a sophisticated style choice for 2020. Try stringing together your own unique bracelet, necklace or earrings.
- YouTube it. Out of ideas? Do a quick YouTube search to discover hundreds of more fun wooden craft ideas or other ways to repurpose your old wooden toys.
How to recycle old wooden toys?
Sorry, not in the recycle bin! When you think of recycling wooden toys, the first thing that comes to mind is the recycle bin. You put paper in the recycle bin, and paper is made from wood. Makes sense, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
The fact is, most city recycling systems won’t accept them. Your old wooden toy can’t be sorted as a paper product, because it hasn’t been processed into paper.
Think twice before burning! Wood is a natural material. Burning it should also be a natural way to dispose of it, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. On the contrary, recycling authority Recycle Nation clearly states:
Painted, varnished and pressure-treated wood should not be burned in a fireplace or fire pit.Sophia Bennett for Recycled Nation
Because most wooden toys have undergone wood treatment — pressure treated, glued, painted, varnished, or otherwise finished — which means it’s not a good candidate for recycling or burning.
But if you’re determined to recycle, there’s still hope. Here are two uncommon alternatives to look into:
Paid recycling service. A company called Terracycle runs a Zero Waste Box Program serving many countries around the globe. How it works is, you buy a box from them online. When it arrives, you load it up with your old toys, ship it back, and then they will do all the recycling work for you. These guys are recycling gurus, so they’re able to recycle more types of goods and materials than local state-run recycling systems.
Terracycle, however, is direly expensive. Recycling even a small box of old costs upwards of $200. I wanted to list it here because it’s a noteworthy forward-thinking project. I don’t know how much it costs to run a recycling operation, but that price is something else.
Wood reuse & recycling directory. A much more practical alternative would be to find a local wood salvager near you. Reusewood.org is a directory of over 500 businesses and organizations that accept scrap wood. They’re used to dealing with large quantities, like after a building is demolished, but as wood experts, they might like to hear from you. Just visit their website and enter your city. Chances are there are a few different locations within an hour’s drive.
Over to you!
When you’re ready to part with your old wooden toys, you’ve got tons of options. Regifting, reselling, repurposing, and recycling are all in the cards. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You will always have the playtime memories of your wooden toy. Now, it’s time to let them go, however you choose to do so.
Let us know you how you decided to let go of your old wooden toys in the comments below.