Toys and the 3Rs

By Lina Younes

During the holidays, my youngest daughter and I undertook the project of cleaning up the toy room. As we approached the seemingly enormous task of going through all the toys, we opted for the following strategy. Divide the toys, books, gadgets, trinkets, etc. in three piles: one set of articles to keep, another to throw away, and the third to “recycle.”

In other words, the third pile of toys would donated to Goodwill.

The challenging process of sorting the items in three piles took quite a while. Many of the toys were full of memories, not only for her, but for me too. It was interesting to see which items finally ended up in the “must save” or “keep away” category. I saw how some of the valued items considered “must haves” from holidays past were easily discarded this time around. I confess that I added quite a few items to the “must keep” pile, such as some stuffed animals and baby toys. It was moving to see a pair of child gardening gloves that were half the size of my little girl’s hands today. How quickly they grow! Furthermore, I reluctantly added to the recycle pile some items that in spite of our personal memories were in a perfectly good condition and would definitely make another child happy.

So, a good activity to reduce clutter and help the environment is to go through a similar recycling project with your children. I admit it is not easy, but it has to be done. How do you approach going through old toys? As always, I will love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as acting associate director for environmental education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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