How toy rental is good for the planet and your pocket

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With the release of the Smyths Toys catalog, it’s only a matter of time before toddlers start writing letters to Santa and family members start asking what’s top of the list. of children’s wishes this Christmas.

But children’s toys have a remarkably short lifespan, with 80% ending up in landfills or the sea after being used for just six months on average. Worse yet, 90% of toys contain some form of plastic.

For the environmentally conscious parent, the thought of an influx of new plastic-laden toys soon to make its way to the local charity store or worse – the landfill – could be the nightmare before Christmas. But some smart parents have come up with a cost-effective and more sustainable solution: renting toys.

The latest addition to the Irish scene, Clever Tots Toy Club, was founded by Cork mother Jenel Sanders and husband Didier and was born out of their experience as new parents, working and living in Dubai.

A sample of the goodies in a Clever Tots Toy Club monthly box. Photo: Anna Groniecka

Priced at € 39.99 per month with discounts for purchases of three, six and 12 month memberships, the founders say the club could help parents save an average of € 60 per month, on top of the time saved. to get rid of unused toys.

“I was pregnant in Orlando when I got the idea of ​​starting a toy rental club,” Ms. Sanders said. “I had seen toy exchange and sharing groups within the expat community in Dubai, so I researched the idea to find something similar already existed.”

Ms Sanders, whose baby boy Orlando is now two, says she joined a toy rental club in Dubai and from six to 12 months old Orlando received a monthly delivery of toys.

The excitement of both of us when the box arrived was incredible. I was just as excited to try them out as he was and was grateful to discover new ways to play with him.

Jenel Sanders co-founder of the Clever Tots Toy Club with her son Orlando.  Photo: Anna Groniecka
Jenel Sanders co-founder of the Clever Tots Toy Club with her son Orlando. Photo: Anna Groniecka

“I was also happy to return the toys from the previous month as I just didn’t have the storage space for an endless amount of toys as well as all the other bulky baby items like high chairs, playpens , etc. “

“Although luckily when it got attached to a recycled plastic fire truck, I was able to keep it for a little extra money.”

Ms Sanders said they also incorporated this into their model for the Clever Tots Toy Club, as they know kids won’t always want to return toys – but it can also be a good learning opportunity for them and a lesson in sharing, she said. .

“When you bring new life to the world, you start to see the way of life and the environment you live in from a new perspective.

“I have become more eco-responsible than ever, especially when it comes to choosing essentials such as diapers, wipes and baby clothes.

“Next, I looked at the cost of toys, their value to a child’s learning and development, and their impact on the environment.”

“The principle of the Clever Tots Toy Club is to provide a more sustainable way for caregivers and children to enjoy their toys in the home environment.”

Other toy rental services

DluluKaloo

Inspired by a mother’s frustration with new toys gathering dust, DluluKaloo is a national wooden toy rental service approaching its first birthday in November.

Vicky Noble and her five-year-old daughter help pick out toys in each month’s bundle and at just $ 20 per month (plus a security deposit) this is one of the more affordable options.

Parents (or kids) can choose whatever bundle of wooden toys you want each month. At the end of the month, you can either return the toys, exchange them for something different, or keep them.

If you decide to keep the whole package – you will not be charged any rental fees, and if you choose to keep parts of it – your rental fees will be reduced. Dlulukaloo covers the delivery and return costs.

Carrickmacross game library

The first dedicated toy library in Ireland caters to children up to six years old in Carrickmacross and its surroundings. The non-profit initiative allows users to borrow up to four toys, puzzles or games for three weeks at a time; it was created by Jill Kennon and Murphy Byrne.

Carrickmacross Toy Library is a nonprofit initiative with over 200 toys in its collection.
Carrickmacross Toy Library is a nonprofit initiative with over 200 toys in its collection.

The library currently has over 200 toys in its collection; with three-quarters of those “pre-loved” and coming from donations or collected from local charity shops. New toys are purchased for durability.

The Toy Library recently received over € 1,000 in funding from Rethink Ireland to support its ‘borrow without buying’ goals.

Cork City Library

We all know libraries aren’t just for books, with CDs, DVDs and more available for loan alongside Roald Dahl and Harry Potter, but did you know that now you can rent toys too?

Cork City Library recently launched its first collection of toys with board games, puzzles and more to promote responsible drinking and play for all ages.

Members can now borrow toys and play materials from the library, which Chief Librarian Patricia Looney says will provide a solution for families in short-term housing scenarios that have limited space.

It also gives children the opportunity to try out a toy or play equipment before purchasing it, reducing potential unnecessary waste.

“While other libraries have collections of sensory toys which require a referral from an occupational therapist or the like, to our knowledge this is the first collection of Irish public library toys with universal access,” said Ms Looney.



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