If your kids’ unwanted toys are still in good condition, don’t throw them away. Donating toys gives them a second lease of life. It keeps them out of landfills, saves precious resources, and allows low-income families to be able to afford to treat their children to otherwise unaffordable toys.
In this guide, we explain why toy donation is a good thing for the planet, and provide a list of where to donate toys.
Why is it a good idea to donate toys?
Unsure whether donating old toys is really worth it? Here are some of the reasons why donating toys is a great idea.
Reduce the amount of plastic in landfills
Toys are often made of plastic. In fact, the toy industry is the most plastic-intensive industry in the world. Even the ones that aren’t, for example wooden toys, will still struggle to biodegrade in the air-tight conditions found in landfills.
If you don’t donate your toys they will probably still be taking up space on the planet when your children’s children’s children’s children have already had their own children!
For reference, in 2018 27,030,000 tons of plastic was landfilled in the USA in municipal solid waste alone. Bearing in mind that plastic takes more than 400 years to break down, it’s not difficult to see that we really need to change our throw-away consumer habits.
Save precious raw materials
Reducing waste by donating also saves precious raw materials. If you donate your toys, chances are the lucky recipients of your toys aren’t going to go out and buy another one. Multiply this by several hundreds of thousands and not only do you have less plastic in landfills and littering our planet, you also have fewer new plastic toys created.
The knock-on effect of donating your toys and therefore saving raw materials, is that there will also be a reduction in the amount of pollution and deadly chemicals released into the atmosphere. Take a look at these terrifying counters of how many tons of Bisphenol A and Phthalates are produced every single day!.
Donating your toys is also a great way to help out others. Families who have fallen on hard times, people with disabilities, there are plenty of charities out there doing their best to support people.
Not only can your toy donation help to fund their activities, it can also give low-income families affordable toys for their kids. This sense of community and belief in society is essential to our democracy.
Children grow out of toys fast
No toy is going to last forever. Apart from the occasional family heirloom or nostalgic favorites that you’re saving for your grandchildren, most toys these days have a fairly short lifespan.
Kids grow up quickly and families are smaller. Plus, with the buy and discard culture climate we live in, every commercial break on children’s TV encourages kids to want yet another new toy.
Make kids happy
Last but not least, whether it’s to a local family, a thrift shop, or a national charity, donating toys has the same end result – your used toys will make the children they go to very happy.
Where to donate toys in 2023
Rather than simply discarding perfectly functional toys, it’s so much better for the planet to donate these used toys to worthy causes. However, to the uninitiated, this may seem trickier than expected.
For example, some places, such as hospitals or daycare centers, may not want used toys due to allergy, hygiene, or health issues. Other places may only want specific types that are easy to clean.
But while you may not find a suitable way to donate your used toys straight off, we recommend being persistent, asking around locally and trying out all of our suggestions below.
If you’re unsure, you can always check out most of our suggestions from the comfort of your own home ahead of time – either online or by picking up the phone.
Let’s get started with some of the nation’s most popular charities that accept toy donations. Also bear in mind that if you are donating to a charity you can get a receipt for tax purposes.
Toys For Tots
Perhaps the most famous toy-related charity out there, you may have already donated new toys via the collection box.
However, if you’re looking to donate used toys in excellent condition, then head over to the Toys for Tots website to schedule a pick-up or find out where your nearest drop off point is.
Used toys are more likely to go to child facilities throughout the year, rather than being distributed to individuals for the holidays. In any case, you can be certain that your toys will be going somewhere they’ll bring a lot of joy.
Your local Salvation Army store is a great place to donate your gently used toys. They will be sold in stores at an affordable price, enabling low-income families to purchase toys for their kids.
The profits then get reinvested into the charity to support their work, benefiting your local community. Happy kids, happy parents, and more charitable programs in your local area.
Another popular place to drop off your used toys, as well as children’s books, games, and sports equipment, your local Goodwill Store and Donation Center is waiting to receive your donations.
Not only will your toys get a second lease of life, they will also go towards funding Goodwill’s mission of training, employment, and supportive services for persons with disabilities or disadvantages.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity is a global non-profit organization that helps people in need to build or improve their homes. Donations are sold in their ReStores and the proceeds go to help families in need of decent affordable housing.
As every ReStore is different, it’s best to contact your local store directly and find out if they are accepting toy donations.
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Big Brothers Big Sisters of America have a support foundation that accepts small used toys. Look up the Big Brother Big Sister Foundation and find out when pickups are scheduled in your area.
100% of the proceeds from your donations go to their child mentoring programs, so your unwanted kid’s toys will help support a very worthy children’s charity.
The Arc also accepts toy and game donations, provided they are clean and in good working order.
Families will be able to purchase your toys for their kids at an affordable price, your toys will get a second life, and proceeds will go towards paying for disabled staff members’ employment and training, as well as supporting local families who are in need.
Ronald McDonald House
The Ronald McDonald House Charity provides accommodation for families near to hospitals where their child is being treated.
They accept new, unused toy donations for their houses and family rooms to help siblings feel more at home during their stay. Some Ronald McDonald Houses may accept slightly used toys, so do check with your local unit.
SAFE (Stuffed Animals for Emergencies)
Run entirely by volunteers, SAFE takes donations of gently used stuffed animals (plus blankets, books, and children’s clothes). They clean each item, then pass them on to organizations that deal with children in emotional and traumatic situations.
Your toys are never sold. Not only do they get a second life, they are sure to be much appreciated and could really help make a positive impact on a young child’s life.
If your town has a toy library, give them a call and find out if they are currently accepting donations. Easy to clean, durable, and robust toys are generally favored.
Toy libraries are a great way for little ones to play with a wide variety of toys without filling up landfills once they get bored or outgrow certain models. It is also much easier on parents’ pockets and it makes an exciting trip for the kids choosing their next toy.
Donating your used toys to your local toy library will bring a lot of happiness to many local kids.
Local Daycare Centers
If you want to donate locally, you could try calling up your town’s daycare center to see if they accept used toy donations. Easy to clean, durable toys are usually preferable.
Donating your used toys to a local daycare center is a great way to give them a second life and prevent them from going to landfill.
Most hospitals will only accept new, unused toy donations for hygiene reasons. However, when you’re sorting out your clutter, you may find the occasional toy that was double gifted, or that you purchased for a relative’s or friend’s child that for some reason you never met.
If you have new toys to donate, you could contact your local hospital and give them first pick. Toys are always welcome distractions in waiting rooms as well as on the wards and your unwanted presents will finally get to be played with.
If you are looking for a convenient way to keep your used toys out of landfills, then check out Donation Town, the donation pick up service directory. Simply fill in your zip code and you get a list of local charities that will pick up your used toys that you can schedule directly on the site.
It is free to use, for both yourself and the charities, giving millions of articles a new life, saving people money, and helping save the environment.
Churches and Community Groups
Community groups and churches often provide childcare or child-friendly events. Often overlooked when it comes to second-hand toy donations, these groups can make great new homes for your used toys.
Be sure to contact your church or community group to check if they are currently accepting toy donations.
As they will be involved with many members of the local community, they may want to accept your toy donation to pass it on to a local family who are in need. Also, if you are donating directly to a church, note that as they are tax-exempt organizations, you can ask them for a receipt to claim the amount back off your tax.
So, it’s not quite giving your used toys the second lease of life you may have had in mind, but if you find no alternatives or your toys are damaged, a recycling program will ensure that they do not pollute the Earth for many years to come. By recycling your used toys, you are also ensuring that fewer virgin materials are used, as well as fewer pollutants.
Contact your local recycling service to check if they are able to take your used toys. You could also check out Terracycle who have partnered with toy manufacturers Hasbro to create a toy recycling program.
Thanks to Terracycle’s processing and recycling capabilities, your used toys will save valuable natural resources and may even be turned into recycled playground equipment!
Craigslist, Gumtree & Local Groups
If your used toys are still in good condition and you just know they’d make some kid really happy, why not place an ad on Craigslist, Gumtree, or your local Buy Nothing Page on social media. There are plenty of families out there that are struggling to make ends meet and would love to accept your donation.
When using these sites, don’t give out any personal details to strangers and agree to drop off or hand over your toys in a public place where you won’t be alone. You could also look out for local charity garage sales on similar sites and drop off your used toys to be sold to raise money for a good cause.
What are you waiting for?
Keeping toys out of landfills is undoubtedly better for our planet. Passing on your unwanted toys means less energy and valuable resources will be used up making the exact same toy again, while also saving families a lot of money and making kids happy.
With the resources listed in this guide, you’ll be able to give your old toys a new lease a life while doing your bit for the environment.