The holiday shopping season is now in full swing. According to a recent American Research Group survey, the average American will end up spending around $861 on Christmas this year. Although this might be no big deal for some parents, for others it can cause a lot of stress.
One simple thing to do instead is buy used toys. Buying used toys is not only great for your pocketbook, but it’s also good for the environment.
Buying used toys when possible helps keep them out of the landfills. (Photo from Creative Commons)
Tiffany Smith, a mom living in Lexington, says, “I save so much money buying gently used toys for my 2-year-old son. He is always excited to play with something that is new to him. I find most of his toys at garage sales, secondhand kid stores and on Facebook parent pages.”
Yes, buying used products usually saves us money, but if that’s not a good enough reason to buy used toys let’s talk about the impacts on the environment. Purchasing toys from places such as Goodwill and Re-Kid in Lexington not only saves that perfectly functioning toy from ending up in the landfill, but it also cuts down on the amount of materials required to make new things.
Personally, the thing I dread most about toys is the amount of packaging used by manufactures to secure the toy in the box. The cardboard and plastic used in most toy packaging is also hard for children to open themselves, not to mention that most new toys require some assembly time.
“My husband also loves it when I bring home used toys because they are usually already put together,” adds Smith.
The American Occupational Therapy Association provides tips for selecting toys that will make the most of playtime, stimulate social, physical and cognitive development. Ask yourself:
- Is the toy is safe and age appropriate. If the suggested age is too young, the child will get bored quickly. Too old and the child may be frustrated and give up, or be exposed to small parts that could pose a safety risk.
- Can the toy by played with in more than one way?
- Does the toy appeal to several senses? Children’s attention is captured by colors, sounds, lights and textures? Look for toys that encourage them to push buttons, move parts, open doors, sort shapes.
- Can the toy be used in more than one place or position?
- Does the toy involve the use of both hands? This promotes motor skills development.
- Does the toy encourage thinking or solving problems? Board games and science kits are great for older kids. A jack-in-the-box is good for younger children.
- Does the toy necessitate communication and interaction? Dress up clothes, kitchen sets and play houses fit in this category.
- Is the toy worth the cost? How durable is it?
I hope this helps you wrap up your shopping (pun intended) by taking some of the stress off your wallet and the environment this holiday season.
Emily Casey is an environmental educator at Bluegrass Greensource. She works primarily with elementary and middle school students. She has a bachelor’s education and environmental studies from the University of Vermont. Casey spends her free time exploring Lexington and spending time outdoors around the beautiful Bluegrass Region she now calls home.