Eco-Friendly Disposal of Kids’ Toys and Electronics

boy, toys

Photo by LelandsMommy

Still busy organizing and finding room for all those new toys? Don't tell me it's just me... Well, if this project leads you to getting rid of old toys, here are some eco-friendly ideas for disposing of kids' toys and electronics from dad and Senior Editor at MSN Green, Ed Scheff.


Back to Work: How to properly dispose of your kids’ toys and electronics

by Ed Scheff, MSN Green Expert

Now that the presidential inauguration has come and gone, the back-to-work tug that usually kicks in right after New Year's seems to have finally arrived. The nation has cleaned house, so to speak, and now it’s time for us to get on with whatever it is we do to earn our daily bread.

In my own home, that feeling hit me square in the big toe last night when I got up before dawn to return my two-year-old—a recent crib graduate—to her “big girl” bed after an impromptu dance recital in her parent’s darkened bedroom. I was half asleep, and as I drug Ruby back to her bedroom, I stepped on a wooden cow puzzle piece, snapped a crayon into a throw rug, and smashed my toes on the Winnie the Pooh vehicle parked smack in the middle of the hallway. I admit that my wife and I are not the most diligent house-cleaners, but I know what the real problem is: we’ve got too much dang stuff.

I’ll bet many of you are feeling it, too. The truckload of new toys, electronics and—let’s face it—useless crap our kids accumulated over the holidays is getting underfoot. It’s time to purge.

Give that toy a new home

In my house, there’s already a lineup of bags by the front door filled with clothes destined for our local Goodwill. And this weekend I've been ordered vowed to add three boxes of toys to the haul (that Pooh truck is going first).

Donation is always a great option with toys—it gives them a second life. Plus, the vast majority of toys can’t simply be dropped in your curbside bin because they’re usually made of several different materials.  Here are your best options:

  • Donate them to Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other donation centers. Visit the MSN Green Recycling Directory, type in “toys” and your zip code, and you’ll see mapped results for locations near you.
  • Donate them to other local charities, schools, daycares, or churches
  • Check your local hospital: some accept stuffed animals and other toys
  • Regift them to other kids in your family or save them for the next birthday party you’re invited to
  • Put your local online community to work and Freecyle your toys
  • And, of course, just because a toy breaks doeasn’t mean it needs to head to the trash heap. Take a crack at repairing it – it’s amazing what a little tape can do for a broken wheel

Of course, in this economy it’s no sin to make a few bucks off of your old or unwanted toys. You can also:

  • Save them for this spring’s yard-sale season; toys are usually some of quickest items to go
  • And if you’re up to dealing with the possible hassles of shipping, post your lot on Craigslist or eBay
  • Take them into your local kids consignment store for credit

Electronic options

Plastic toy waste is problem, all right, but electronic waste is another story altogether. Electronic waste accounts for more than half of all toxic waste found in landfills. Part of that is due to the fact that each year Americans throw out almost 180,000 tons of batteries. So keep these tips in mind when you’re getting rid of of toys and electronics that have batteries:

  • Remove the batteries from old toys and devices before donating or selling them and properly recycle them: Visit the MSN Green Recycling Directory, type in “batteries” and your zip code, and you’ll see mapped results for recycling and retail take-back locations near you.
  • Know that different batteries have different recycling requirements. Visit to see the difference between Alkaline, Lithium, NiCad batteries, and more.
  • Most large electronics device manufacturers and retailers now offer their own take-back programs. Visit MSN Green for an all-in-one list of major brand take back programs.

Ed Scheff, dad, daughter

Ed Scheff is the father of an adorable 2-year-old warlord and Senior Editor of MSN Green, the largest website dedicated to Green Living. 

Thanks for the tips, Ed. This makes the toy tossing organizing project that much easier, which means maybe I'll actually get it done now.

+++ What do you do with your kids' toys when they're done with them?

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