Why I’m Buying Secondhand Toys This Christmas

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: hermantunip)

It’s a magical sight, right? All those perfectly wrapped, brand new presents under the Christmas tree, just waiting to be opened? I’ve been there: receiving new toys in the mail from some crazy online shopping spree, my eyes a-twinkle when I open those boxes and how nice they look, how much my kids will love them in their packaging. But then I remember places like this…

(Image credit: Brent Moore)

…and I find myself completely overwhelmed by the amount of stuff on the Earth already.

Last weekend I went with a friend to a giant used toy fair. And it really was giant: hundreds upon hundreds of ride-ons, dump trucks, baby toys, musical instruments. They were in mountains on tables. Mountains. I went up to the “baby doll” table and picked up at doll from the lot I thought might be a good present for our one-year-old, and saw that it was still attached to some of its accessories with tags – it had never even been played with. And that just made me feel so… sad.

What are we doing, when we keep on buying more and more new toys for the world when the world already has so many? Surely they aren’t all recyclable. Where are they ending up? What happens when even the thrift store can’t take any more toys?

I really want to instill in my kids the value of being a good steward of the Earth and the people in it. Sometimes that’s hard – choosing to love something bigger than yourself will always cost, and it does mean giving up the shiny packaging on Christmas day. But it doesn’t mean their presents have to be sad! Secondhand toys can be:

  • out of their box but never used
  • unnoticeably used
  • fixed by Mom and Dad or even repurposed by Mom and Dad
  • “vintage” cool
  • or even
  • something special that belonged to me or someone else in our family

I know this won’t work for everyone. Kids expect Christmas to be the same each year and I know it’s hard to change. But in my house, my little ones are just three and one – isn’t this the perfect time to set in them values I would like to see them carry on forever? And maybe this year, you could take up the challenge in just a tiny way, and choose just one thing out of the “present pile” that each of your kids could receive secondhand.

Our planet will thank you for it!