Plastic Toys: Fun for a bit and then it gets old

We decided to participate in an OPENIDEO challenge: how might we get products to people without generating plastic waste? With sCoolMakers kids can extend the lifecycle of otherwise non-recyclable plastic toys, reuse more and reduce demand for plastic. The market for toys is huge and so instilling new habits in kids and families could have a major impact.

30 july 2017 /// Rieta Aliredjo

Click here to go to our project page on OPENIDEO.

Update: we were not selected to continue in the next phase of the competition. Up and onwards!

A problem no one is talking about

Kids use a lot of stuff for a short time. They can’t help it: they quickly grow out of their stuff physically, mentally and emotionally. Out of all the stuff they use, toys are perhaps, with the exception of a few favourites, the objects that are notoriously short-lived. How many toys succeed in capturing the imagination for longer than perhaps a few days? Unfortunately this has fuelled a $90 billion global toy industry with plastics accounting for 90% of this market. This is a huge problem as featured recently in a Huffington Post Article

Apart from the sheer size of the market, the article highlights a few other drawbacks. Many plastic toys are low quality, basically designed to be added to the waste streams. And even if recycling would be a common practice, most toys are not good candidates for this, because they are typically composed of other materials that can’t be separated out. 

With awareness comes responsibility and empowerment

We all need to take a step back and see the bigger picture. Kids, maybe especially in affluent societies, are not taught about the impact disposable toys has on the environment. To get new toys with every birthday or holiday has become too commonplace. Would kids have these expectations if we were willing to share the full story? We feel they have the right to a complete narrative, because it concernes their future. And we also believe kids are willing to learn, because kids are idealist by nature. Given the opportunity to learn about conserving our planet and it’s scares resources, they will rise to the occasion. 

With sCooLMakers we want to make it fun and easy for kids to trade their used stuff with each other. Giving (plastic) products a longer life and instilling a mindset and skill set that foster a circular economy. Kids will learn to share, to pass on a product they don’t use anymore, to value quality and opt for second hand instead of new. We hope to increase awareness and with that responsibility and empowerment. 

In the end demand fuels supply. Imagine a world where kids have a voice and use this voice for good. To demand more sustainable products now and in the future. Maybe the day will come again, when toys are designed to be used and re-used, passed down from generation to generation.
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