Children’s toys are almost impossible to recycle. Let that fact sit for a minute and think about the massive amounts of plastic toys that we give our kids during their lifetime. Think about all the children in the world with their buckets and spades, trucks, and dolls. These items are not uniform like the average PET bottle, and they are composed of many other materials, metals, paints, and different types of plastics.
Even in a perfectly organised society with advanced recycling systems, we are only recycling about 9.5% of all plastics we throw away. Recycling is complicated, difficult, and expensive. Recent investigations found that in Canada (where the different colored recycling bin system was first established back in the 80s) they found that plastics are being shipped in massive quantities to the Philippines to be burnt or dumped in landfill.
By all metrics, recycling is a failure. There are so many initiatives and things we can do to recycle plastic, but they are costly, underfunded, small-scale, and not effectively dealing with the massive problem we are facing in the world right now.
Clothing provides another complicated problem for our environment. At this point, we are all very aware of the term “fast fashion”. Cheap labour from developing countries where workers are mistreated and underpaid. Massive quantities of dangerous dyes and chemicals are dumped into waterways and the ocean, in countries where clothing is manufactured and regulations are not in place to deal with it. Cheap clothing, means that individuals on average, are throwing away about 70 pounds of clothing every year. All of this ends up in landfill. The textile industry is reported to be the second dirtiest, most polluting industry in the world, right behind oil.
So with all of these heavy thoughts weighing on our conscience, what can we do? Firstly we need to start being aware of the plastics and products we are buying and consuming on a daily basis, refuse plastic bags, straws, and packaging whenever you can, and buy less stuff. If you buy a Kinder Joy for your daughter once a week, that cheap, flimsy little toy inside the chocolate treat will entertain her for maybe a few minutes and then it will go into the trash. We simply don’t need to buy so much junk.
With toys, clothing, baby accessories, furniture, and other necessities, we can make sure they go on to have the longest life possible. Bangkok has so many parent groups on Facebook where your can sell or give away once-loved things to have a second life and be loved by another family. Bangkok also has a wonderfully active swap community. Groups like Swap ’Til You Drop do monthly events where you take your old stuff and collect new stuff at the same time. Donate to legitimate, and effective charities. Be careful to give your unneeded things to charities which really make the most of the goods they receive, do your research and choose wisely.
This Saturday at Language Express there will be a toy and clothing swap for kids and babies. Bring some things that you no longer want or need down to the school and have a look at all the other things that will be available for you to take! Give new love to something that might have been thrown away. Close the circle on waste while having a great day out, bring the kids, have a coffee, and meet other like-minded parents. All things left over at the end of the day will be donated to Second Chance Bangkok.
Bring your kids books, clothing, toys, and small furniture items down to Language Express at Ploen Chit BTS on Saturday, June 8th at 10am. RSVP or questions: firstname.lastname@example.org.