- Every year, millions of tonnes of textile waste goes to landfills around the world
- Stuffed animals can often be donated to op shops, hospitals and emergency services
- Wondering what to do with stuffed animals your child won’t part with? Repurpose them into a backpack or bookends for their room.
Stuffed animals. Don’t our kids just love them!?
Relatives love to give them as gifts. We all love to win them as prizes at the local show. Cruise along the toy aisle and there’s bound to be another stuffed animal our little one just has to have.
But, of course, just about every kid has far too many stuffed animals!
When it comes to time to cull their collection to make room for new toys, it seems too wasteful just to throw them out. It’s certainly not very environmentally-conscious when you consider our ever-increasing landfill. After all, “the amounts of annual textiles waste that goes to a landfill in the UK and the US are estimated to be 350,000 tonnes and 9.5 million tonnes, respectively.” That’s staggering.
So, the question is: what to do with old stuffed animals?
We’ve got some excellent ideas for you, ranging from donating them, to repurposing them into handy items for around the home .
Donate to op shops or not-for-profit organisations
Just like when we’re cleaning out our closets, op shops or not-for-profits are a go-to fix for what to do with your old stuffed animals.
But before you donate, there are a few things to consider.
- Check with your op shop/not-for-profit of choice to make sure they do accept stuffed animals.
- Find out what “acceptable condition” looks like to them. Make sure you comply and check your items for split seams, loose eyes etc.
- Give them a wash of course!
Donate to emergency services or hospitals
Scientific studies have found that items like teddy bears offer “psychological comfort and emotional security.” That means they can be helpful items for children going through traumatic situations.
Sometimes emergency services or hospitals like to have these on hand for children they are helping. Try checking with your local police station, fire station or your hospital’s paediatric wing to see whether they accept donations of stuffed animals.
Donate to a pet shelter
It’s not just kiddies that love stuffed animals. Our furry friends (especially those that might be lonely) could use them too.
Why not reach out to your local pet shelter and ask if they would like some stuffed animals donated?
If you’re worried your children may be a hard sell to part with their cuddly toys, this is probably the best option on the list for you. Many kids would love to know they are helping some lonely animals find comfort.
Arrange a swap with family or friends
What’s old to your family, is new to another! If your kids are still of an age to enjoy stuffed animals or other toys, it might be fun to swap a few of theirs with another child.
While it doesn’t reduce the amount of toys in your home, it’s certainly a way to move unused or forgotten items on, and have some fresh ones around (without having to pay for them).
Hold a garage sale
If stuffed animals aren’t the only things cluttering up your home, a garage sale might be in order. It’s a good way to ensure your items are getting a second life, rather than ending up in landfill. You can also get the kids involved in choosing what they would like to sell, how much to sell them for, and displaying their items for sale.
Now, the five options we have just mentioned are great ways to move stuffed animals on from your home, but what if you’re faced with a child who isn’t willing to part with their stuffed animals at all?
Well, we have put together three excellent repurposing activities to ensure your child’s stuffed animals remain in the home, but are put to a new use.
Make a teddy bear backpack
Stuffed animals make the cutest backpacks. And why buy an animal-shaped backpack for your little one when you can repurpose one of their own beloved toys?
How to do it:
- You’ll want to choose a stuffed toy that is a good size, without dwarfing your child.
- If it’s a teddy bear, for example, you will cut it open, remove the stuffing and sew a zip down its chest and belly.
- You will need to sew the arms and legs off on the inside to keep the stuffing for these in place.
- Sew an inner pouch for the backpack.
- Attach straps made from webbing to give it that true backpack feel.
Make a cuddle buddy for your dog
If there’s anything that kids love more than their stuffed animals, it’s bound to be their dog! Why not ask your child if they would be happy to donate one (or more) of their stuffed animals to keep their best furry friend company, and make a cuddle buddy .
How to do it:
- Open the main seam of the stuffed animal with a quick-unpick.
- Remove all stuffing (this can be hazardous if dogs eat it).
- Re-stitch the seam.
- Remove any tags or eyes from the stuffed animal as these could pose a choking hazard, and stitch up any holes these leave behind.
- Your little one can now pass on a beloved toy to their best pal.
Make a door stop or book ends
These steps will allow you to turn a stuffed animal into a functioning door stop , or a book end, depending on your preference.
How to do it:
- Choose a stuffed animal that has a sturdy base, to ensure it will remain upright.
- Using a quick-unpick, open a seam at the bottom of the stuffed animal.
- Remove some of the stuffing from the bottom of the stuffed animal (not all of it).
- Choose a heavy filler to replace the stuffing you removed. Ceramic baking beads are a great option, but you can also use rice, if you’re sure the door stop won’t be getting wet.
- Restitch the seam.
- Repeat on a second stuffed animal if you are going to use them as bookends, instead of a door stop.
Final thoughts on what to do with your old stuffed animals
When you’re deciding what to do with old stuffed animals, try to get your kids excited about these options and see if they’ll help you make the decision.
They might really enjoy donating them to someone else when you explain how it will help them - whether it’s a fellow child or a dog!