In a perfect world, green-minded parents would be able to keep plastic toys out of their children’s environment. Unfortunately, that is just not realistic. From plastic American Girl dolls and their plastic accessories to plastic action figures, our world is full of plastic in the form of toys. So, what is a parent to do with the toys when they are not wanted anymore? Well, if you live in or near Cincinnati, you can drop off your plastic toys at Happen’s Toy Lab. Happen, Inc. is a nonprofit arts organization that brings children and adults together through art. Happen’s Toy Lab is a fun place where you create your own one-of-a-kind art piece from their selection of recycled toy parts.
Demolisher recycled toy
“Demolisher” created by Omar, age 7, at Happen’s Toy Lab. Image via
Here’s how the Toy Lab works: You get to pick seven toy parts from bins filled with toys that people have donated to be recycled. Pick whatever you like and bring them to the Toy Lab technicians. The technicians will expertly assemble your pieces into anything your imagination can conjure up. Part of the fun is watching the technicians in their white lab coats during the “upcycling” process as they entertain while assembling your creation. You can browse their Toy Zoo to see watch other people have created at Happen, Inc.’s gallery page. To find out more information about Happen’s Toy Lab and inquire about dropping off your unwanted plastic toys, visit If you’re not in the beautiful Cincinnati area, here are some other plastic toy recycling options:
  • Donate your unwanted toys to a church, school, daycare or other charitable organization. Your local Goodwill or Salvation Army would love to find your gently used toys a good home.
  • Make your own art out of your broken or unwanted plastic toys. For some inspiration, check out artist Robert Bradford, who made dog sculptures from old toys.
  • Check with your local recycling company, as it may accept some plastics for recycling.
Lastly, always remember when you are purchasing a new toy to look for sustainable products.