Thinking of the generations that could play with the toys you buy

Thinking of the generations that could play with the toys you buy

Hot on the heels of my last post about bedding, I was all ready to hit you with a post about the conundrum of whether I should buy some new winter pyjamas. And then something happened that, for now, dampened my purchasing thoughts again.

(nearly) 30 year old Duplo

For the last 10 years, my mother in law has been threatening to hand over some of my husband’s childhood stuff and this week some of it finally arrived.

I was fully expected a load of battered junk, truth be told, that I’d be trying to think of how to get rid of in the least environmentally damaging way.

But it wasn’t junk. It was a big box of Duplo, with a train, train track, car, helicopter, toilet (!), sink, bath, characters, crane, the list goes on. While our toddler was sleeping, blissfully unaware of the treasures that awaited, we set up the train track with the train and a carriage ready to greet him in the morning, hiding the rest in the garage to be discovered another day.

Of course, it has a different look to Duplo that you’d buy today, but my toddler is utterly thrilled with his new train set, I’m thrilled to have acquired something new to play with without spending money, and we’ve not had to find some way to dispose of it.

It’s all good, right? Right?

It sounds like a win all round, and to be fair, in the case of this specific set of Duplo, it really is.

But it got the cogs whirring again about the toys he has now, from us or from friends and family as gifts, how durable they will be, and whether my (theoretical) grandchildren will be playing with them.

He will, I am certain, possess too many toys over the years to save everything but the question remains, what happens to them next. Will they find a new home, new little hands to play with them? How many times will they be passed to siblings and friends, sold on eBay or donated to a charity shop? At what point will they go to join all the other plastic toys that have been broken beyond repair in a landfill site?

(nearly) 50 year old lego

This stuff seems to last forever. Whilst worse for wear than the 30 year old Duplo (it has had tonnes more play by virtue of it’s age), my niece’s still have a great time playing with their grandad’s lego and I’m sure the toddler will get his turn when his fine motor skills are a bit sharper, and he’s less prone to putting random stuff in his mouth.

When you buy lego today, if you buy lego today, do you think about it being played with by your children, your grandchildren and, potentially your great grandchildren?

All these sets of children will have huge swathes of toys themselves. The financial cost, whilst worth bearing in mind, is nothing compared to the environmental cost.

In conclusion, no conclusion

So what to do? I’m not sure. I know how monotonous it has been throughout lockdown, playing with the same toys day in, day out. It is unrealistic, at the moment, to hugely curb toy acquisition.

As parents, we want to provide our kids with a range of options that help them develop in different ways. We can choose second hand where we can, recycled plastic toys, wooden toys. We can try to limit the inflow of toys, choosing ones that are open ended and grow with the child.

To be honest, this doesn’t apply only to toys, of course it doesn’t. Shopping centres across the country and packed with glittering temptations, destined for a relatively brief period of use before most likely a longer period of no use.

It’s easy to forget this when buying things, or to think that you can pass it on when you’ve finished with. And it’s convenient too, not to think about what happens when it’s outlived it’s use.

For now, though, I’m going to keep that little Duplo train set as a reminder that stuff lasts, and not just for 30 years. That trainset will still exist in some form or other when I’m no longer here.

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