One thing that I see a lot at my client’s homes is “landfill toys”.  You know what they are! They are the junk fast food restaurants give away in kids’ meals, goody bag fillers, giveaways at restaurants and doctors’ or dentists’ offices.  Nobody wants them, nobody needs them, they are the bane of mom’s existence, yet we all let this toy clutter come into our homes.

Why?  Why do we not just say “no thank you” to landfill toys?  I think we often say nothing when they are offered and that means “yes, I do want more junk for my house”.  Here comes clutter!

I know it is so easy to just say nothing and let them come into our lives. They are instant gratification toys, meaningless reward toys, keep the kids occupied items…you get the idea.  But I think it is worth it to educate our children about the uselessness of these items and the impact they have on our environment.

These toys get abandoned rapidly and have an “interest half-life” of about 5 minutes.  But when tossed in the garbage and they end up in the landfill, they’re not breaking down any time soon!  At best, some plastics will degrade under UV light and break into smaller pieces, but they don’t degrade like wood or other natural materials.

You can recycle many toys, depending on what plastic it is made from.  But if there are electronics in them, like a PC board, then they need to be recycled with electronics recycling.  If they are made from plastic #7, like Legos, you cannot recycle them, but you can donate them.  You can see that it gets tricky.

So why not make everyone’s life easier, less cluttered and environmentally better by forgoing some of the landfill toys?  When we go to a restaurant, I have my son bring a book to read or an activity book to amuse him while the grownups talk.  When he was younger, I had a stash of fun, reusable toys to take in the car or into restaurants.  I have talked to my son about the value in thinking about whether he wants the offered item or not.  And I have taught him that it is OK to say, “no thank you”.

Still think that landfill toys are a necessary evil?  Check out this article called, “Why Fewer Toys Will Benefit Your Child”.  I particularly agree with his points that kids’ attention spans will increase without all the overflowing distractions surrounding them as well as the point about a tidier home!  Our children’s attitude towards toys, and consumerism in general, starts with us.

How do you keep landfill toys from coming into your home?