Trash or Treasure? Too many toys?

Photo by LeMast on Foter.com / CC BY-ND

It’s hard rubbish time around here. If you don’t know how hard rubbish works, let me break it down for you...

  • Your local council warn you it’s coming soon. Your street is allocated a week when you can dump rubbish too big for the bin, leaving it outside your house.
  • You start to notice the rubbish being left in neighbouring streets looks amazing. You become a dangerous driver as you veer slightly off course trying to peer into the piles.
  • Every day you narrowly avoid coming home with an old broken bookcase, a possibly flea infested armchair, a washing machine that just might work. It’s really only the difficulty of lugging it that stops you, the desire to find a hidden gem languishing on the street is unremitting.
  • The smaller items begin to make it into your car and your home. An old tire (this could be an amazing addition to my kids outside play area!), a retro fan (I could sell this once it’s cleaned up!), a rocking horse (who gave away this beauty? It’s in much better condition than the one I gave away a few months ago!)……

But the real golden finds are the toys. Oh the toys that people throw away! I’ve rescued a farmyard, a Buzz Lightyear, assorted balls, the aforementioned rocking horse, and so many more. Why are these things being put out for hard rubbish? You know what happens to the hard rubbish? It’s crushed, destroyed, wasted. It’s meant to be sorted but I’ve watched the trucks crush much of what could be otherwise. Why are people putting perfectly good toys out for this treatment?

Do we have too many toys for our children? What do they learn from seeing their belongings cast aside so thoughtlessly? Or, for that matter, from receiving ‘new’ toys for no reason other than that some well meaning parent saved it from the bin?

While I can hardly resist the lure of the hard rubbish scavenger hunt, it did give me pause when another parent asked me if we shouldn’t be hoping these second hand toys went to those who needed them, not added to the coffers of children with too many toys already.

Giving away a glut of toys may be a step in the right direction for families overloaded with stuff that brings too little joy. But give away, not throw away, seems to be the real goal here. Perhaps parents assume, reasonably, that the toys will be found and rescued when left on the street. But perhaps donating them to charity shop would serve the purpose better.

Then our children can see the life cycle of their toys ending in a gift to those more in need, and not as a cast off that hopes to be found by anyone who passes by.

What have you found in your neighbours’ hard rubbish?

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