Holy crap! I’ve just discovered that a Captain Planet spoof starring Don Cheadle exists…and it’s going to haunt me for life. Seriously!
Anyhoo, Captain Planet and his Planeteers got me thinking. One of the MANY things I love about working at thatwasrad.com is that it’s essentially a vintage toy recycling and reuniting service. We recycle and reuse things that already exist and reunite them with people they have nostalgic value to. This makes me feel warm and fuzzy.
My fuzziness aside, the reason this is so important struck me while being petrified by Captain Planet. It dawned on me that everything we sell has been recycled! It’s all pre-loved, used, reused and we find it a forever home. What would have once been destined for landfill will now have pride of place in someone’s home or they may repeat the cycle and sell them on to someone else who will cherish it. Either way, the item has escaped the dump that it may have ended up in otherwise. You’ve seen Toy Story 3, right? The dump is toy hell!
I felt so sad seeing perfectly good toys sticking out of skips when I was little and I’m thrilled to be part of a service that re-homes them and know they won’t go to waste. The items we sell aren’t like modern-day fast moving consumer goods that are intentionally designed to have a high turnover – a vicious cycle of buying stuff that isn’t designed to last and is often thrown out within 6 months instead of how things used to be when you bought something expecting it to last a lifetime…or a few years at least.
Growing up in the 90’s, our household toaster, slow cooker, washing machine, hair dryer as well as non-electrical goods were in perfect working order and they were all from the 70’s. Nowadays, no matter what you buy, no matter how big or small, electrical or not, things seem to have the shortest lifespan possible. Something I’m sure is deliberate as most things I’ve purchased with a warranty don’t last long after it’s expired. Shocking, considering my household appliances from the 70’s only started to die on me in the 2000’s.
Technology is getting better yet we expect everything to be cheap and crappy. Take shops like Poundland in the UK, stuff is so cheap that we don’t give it value and view it as disposable (even toys!) when back in the good old days, being thrifty and resourceful was celebrated. Spending more on expensive brands won’t help you either, as I’ve discovered so is this down to so-called shoddy workmanship or because the big conglomos are always forcing you to replace instead of recycle?
But that’s okay, because advertising and mainstream consumer culture encourages it and conditions you to think you can only measure your success by how much stuff you can buy with your salary and if you can keep up with the Joneses. This is nothing new but it seems to be getting worse and I’m not confident that the world and it’s resources can keep up for much longer. With so many awesome toys, games and consoles already in circulation, why would you even want or need to buy newly produced ones? Well, some of them are just freakin’ awesome to be fair but it’s definitely worth cutting down and buying retro instead.
So, will toy recycling save the planet? Well, it won’t turn it into trees like Captain Planet (see video) but recycling at least keeps our stuff out of the landfill. The Story of Stuff explains it better than I can, check it out: http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-stuff/
Want to do some toy recycling yourself?
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