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Toy-sharing subscriptions deliver toy-filled boxes every month that are catered to suit your child's specific needs and wants.

Ever spent a small fortune on a toy for your child, only to find that they prefer playing with the cardboard box it came in? Or perhaps, you’ve seen them gradually lose interest as the next toy craze hits, leaving them ogling at YouTube videos of the latest gadget or gizmo.

With the lifespan of cheaply made plastic toys being no longer than a few weeks, or minutes in some instances, it’s worth investing in good solid toys. But, that can mean paying a bit extra. And, with children rapidly outgrowing their toys, making such an investment doesn’t always make sense.

The options for recycling plastic toys are also quite limited as they’re typically comprised of various other materials too, often metals. The recyclable components can’t be separated and are therefore banned from recycling centres and bins. With only 10% of an estimated 59 million tonnes of the general waste produced in South Africa in 2011 getting recycled (National Waste Information Baseline Report published by the Department of Environmental Affairs), the case for reducing and reusing is strong.

As a response, parents are turning to toy-sharing subscriptions, which have been growing in popularity with searches even increasing by 313% on Pinterest. They serve to offer families a unique solution by giving kids the opportunity to play with a steady supply of new distractions whilst saving parents money and eliminating landfill waste.

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Toy sharing subscriptions allow families to borrow toys for a set period of time, usually a month, and then return them. It works similar to a library, but instead you pay a monthly fee for different toys in the mail instead of checking out books.

Parents who are concerned about germs will be happy to know that such companies have strict sanitising policies for returned toys. After all, kids tend to explore with their mouths by biting, chewing and sucking on anything they can get their hands on. Most of these websites claim plastic toys are cleaned in “ultrasonic baths” and wooden toys are cleaned with “non-toxic, environmentally friendly, anti-bacterial wipes.” So you can rest assured knowing your child will enjoy many germ-free playtimes with their “new” toys.

How it works

Most toy libraries follow the procedure below:

  • Choose a subscription package that suits you
  • Pay the fee
  • Pick your toys for shipment
  • Receive cleaned and sanitized toys
  • Play and return or, in some instances, keep toys you like
  • Receive no charge for normal wear

Toy-subscription services offer a variety of benefits for families, including:

Picture: Pexels

  • Being able to test out toys before buying them. If a child really likes a toy, parents will know whether it is worth investing in.
  • Toys are divided by age group making it easy for parents to pick out toys that are appropriate.
  • Children are constantly growing and reaching new milestones so the toys they are playing with today, may not be suitable in a few months time. Toy sharing enables parents to provide new age-appropriate toys on a month to month basis.
  • No more clutter. Since you’ll be sending back the toys after a fixed amount of time, toys won’t just accumulate in one’s home, taking up space and gathering dust.
  • Learning to share. Kids will learn a valuable life lesson about sharing, by learning to part with toys they no longer want or need.