Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Many of us are, where possible, trying to find ways to reduce our individual consumption. For years we’ve all being doing kerbside recycling and using eBay, Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace to buy and sell used items. But in recent years the trend to reduce, reuse and recycle has taken an upward trajectory and even become fashionable with sites like DePop and MyWardrobe allowing us to buy and rent clothes, Olio to give away and pick up leftover food, and The Repair Shop , where they restore items to their former glory, becoming one of the most watched shows on TV. 

In South East London there are some excellent examples of the community finding ways to reduce, reuse and recycle such as the Micro-Library in a phone box on the corner of Tyrwhitt Road and Lewisham Way where you can exchange books with locals, and the Library of Things where you can loan everything from a sewing machine to a tent rather than buying these items new. 

But what about Toys?

The UK’s toy industry is absolutely massive – in 2018 alone consumers spent £370m on them. Of course many toys are made with plastic but it isn’t only the plastic and the packaging that is the problem because toys are often used many many times over. It is the amount that eventually ends up as landfill that is the main issue. A poll by the British Heart Foundation of more than 2,000 people found that more than a quarter of parents admit to throwing away toys that are in perfect working order and that children have an average of four toys they’ve never played with [source: BBC News]

You can find out more at the Plastic Disclosure Project

As any parent knows it is very difficult to avoid buying toys and nor should you. Toys are huge fun and are essential to child’s play and their development. You could buy non-plastic toys, which can sometimes be more expensive and let’s be honest, kids usually love the bright colourful plastic toys the most! You could opt to buy second hand toys, and then pass them on when your children are finished with them, or have a “one in, one out” policy. But none of these options are truly sustainable and you are still spending money on new toys which may end up unloved and unused.

Borrowing toys

A library is truly the original architect of the new sharing economy and a Toy Library is the perfect solution to these challenges. At a Toy Library you can browse toys, select the ones you want, and borrow them to take home. Being a member of a Toy Library isn’t just about saving money. It’s about contributing to a more sustainable economy and being part of a local community.

One of our former trustees and members wrote this blog to explain what he enjoys about the Lewisham Toy Library:

It’s the surprising other benefits that I find myself enjoying. Several examples from recent loans highlight the benefits of using the Toy Library:

    • Different Ability dolls – My son has barely enjoyed any toy more than the girl in a wheelchair that he zooms around at speed. Barriers be damned – I feel kinda sorry for the next person he meets actually in a wheelchair – suspect they are in for a fast ride!
    • Chinese Food sets – I would never have bought a set of plastic toys with pork buns, spring rolls and red-bean patties, but my son thinks they are normal food now!
    • Puzzles ‘Too Hard’ – I really like getting puzzles that are too difficult. Sometimes the boy steps up and can do them, other times they go back undone, but I know I’ve tried to keep ahead of his development. We have also maintained a stream of different kinds of puzzles which means he is always being stretched and having fun. 
    • Costumes – I haven’t actually used this one yet, but the ability to get a Fire Officer costume (among many) for a party or other play at almost no cost seems like such a winning strategy.
    • Bells / Whistles Fire Truck – It made all sorts of noise and he loved it for a month. And then it went back. I would never buy it, but he gets to play with them at an age-relevant time and I don’t have to suffer the long term hatred of some of the most annoying noises known to humanity.

The toys also come with batteries, almost all of which are rechargeable. The Library decided that the landfill and other issues related to disposal and manufacture of batteries was simply too big a problem to ignore. (And I don’t have to buy batteries either!)

Being a member has also allowed us a good degree of sanity in terms of keeping our lounge room looking at least a little bit uncluttered and akin to an adult space. 

You can benefit too!

Join the Toy Library online today, or just pay us a visit in Lewisham Shopping Centre and have a look around. Continue to browse this website and you can find our membership fees, opening hours and a selection of toys we have in store for members to borrow.

Other London Toy Libraries

Don’t live in Lewisham? Check out these other great toy libraries in London.