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Plastic Toys Everywhere: What to Do?

Rae's got a similar problem to many of us who celebrate Christmas and participate in gift exchanges.  Now that the the holidays are over, there's some purging to be had.  She writes:

Santa (aka: Grandma) was extra "generous" this Christmas and we really aren't interested in the massive amount of toys.  They're very plastic and not very high quality.  I'd like to donate them instead of sending them to a landfill, but am not sure where I can drop them off.  A shelter would be awesome or even a church or daycare.  Some are brand new and in the box and others are toys that we've pulled out of our toy basket in an effort to clean out our small house. The question plaguing me is why I would donate them when we don't even want them?  Part of me feels bad passing these toys off on to someone else since they don't meet our personal standards for quality. Thoughts?  Ideas?  Help!


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Most kids in the US play with plastic toys and many people would appreciate them. It's hard, but I would feel better about giving away the plastic than throwing it away. Ultimately it will end up in the landfill or ocean though -- it's not going anywhere for millennia.

I had the same problem - my mother in law bought plastic toys the Christmas after we asked for no plastic toys & no toys made in China. I asked her where the toys were made - and of course it was China. She was tense & so was my husband - but I had to tell her no more - please for future - I would have loved to put that money she spent in my son's college fun at 20 months now that gift of cash would mean a lot in 18 years instead of plastic crap!

So "we" let him play w/ those toys (I grudgingly gave in) and we then donated them to the Goodwill on Dec 31st. I too felt bad giving them for other kids to play with.


If you think about it, a lot of people purchase toys to donate, so if you donate toys that are already purchased, it is almost like recycling. And it's true, to almost all the children living in a shelter or who can't afford toys, even plastic toys are a wonderful treat. Our values are not necessarily practical for those living in poverty. If you want to do more, you can purchase other toys made of wood in Germany and donate those as well so they have a choice. I think it's wonderful that you all think of those less fortunate. It's important to remember others even after the holiday season is over.

Hey, chica! I've been thinking about your question and I totally agree with what's been said so far. Moreover, when you donate the item, it doesn't go directly to the child typically - whomever is the child's guardian chooses it for them or is a mediator of some sort. If they are against plastic toys, they will avoid them, and if they are not against plastic toys, then they will take them whether they are your donated toys or someone else's. I don't think it's something that you need to feel guilty about. Love ya!

so any recommendations on WHERE to donate them? keep in mind that some are used and no longer in their packaging...

I belong to an indoor playground, called the Sunnyside Indoor Swap Shop. Kids come in all the time to play with the toys. Some toys stay at the shop, some make it to kids homes. You are welcome to 'donate' your toys there. There is contact info on the website. Also, they are currently holding open enrollment for those interested. I wouldn't say the general population of members are needy, but they do open the swap shop to the church on Sundays.


I donated several items (clothes and toys) late last year to the Children's Relief Nursery in North Portland. I liked knowing that they were going to help kids in my area, and that they were going directly to the families.

After all the plastic toys my own family has brought home from (and often, subsequently, taken back to) the Bins, I've completely gotten over any guilt toward passing the toys off on someone less fortunate. like Makeshift Mama says, the child's guardian selects the toys, and it's not like any child has ever been held down and forced to play with a toy just because you donated it!

as for where, you could also ask at whatever church is in your neighborhood -- most of them have nurseries and playrooms, some have cooperative preschools, and it's likely that newish toys would be welcome. also, check out your favorite coffeeshop or family-friendly restaurant, where there is likely a bin of banged-up toys. maybe they'd like some new ones!

I bet a Women's Relief Shelter would take the toys as well. The women and kids have to leave all their belongings behind typically.



Goodwill! It's a great organization and it's easy. They have donation sites everywhere. Plus, the toys are picked out and purchased by people who want them. Whatever you do, don't throw plastic toys in a landfill! They will be there forever!

I would plug for donations to Insights Teen Parent Program in SE Portland. These mamas don't usually have a ton of money, so donations are always welcome.

There are a number of organizations that will ship your toys to Iraq for Iraqi children (you have to post them to the US address).

Here's one. There are certain toys they won't take (war toys, barbies, toys needing batteries, etc)


ahhh... you guys are the best! thanks so much! i can hardly wait to empty my car of all of the plastic and possibly make some other kid really, really happy.

What I'm trying to figure out is how you get your child to give up the crap that's been given. I don't really want to explain to my li'l darling that aunt lucy bought her cheap plastic china-made crap. That would surely be repeated the next time we see aunt lucy. What's your trick? Or is your kidlet still so tiny that they don't know?

One person's trash is another person's treasure. I figure that's true with kids as well. Most of the craptastic plastic yuck we get naturally gets forgotten and then it can disappear with minimal fuss in the night. However, if something is beloved, much as I may hate it, it stays. Unless I've got a better reason than it's plastic crap, it's not a battle I want to fight.

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