Pre-Loved Teddy Bears Recycled into Rugs and More: (Re)Uses for Old Toys

teddy bears

In a few days boys and girls around the world will excitedly untie ribbons and tear away packaging to reveal their newest toys and games. Parents like me will have to figure out how to make room for their children’s latest gifts along with keeping their most cherished favorites. If your child’s toy box is overflowing, don’t throw away their worn teddy bears and/or broken, unwanted toys. Instead donate, recycle or recreate them into works of art like Agustina Woodgate’s vibrant colored, plush rugs. The internationally-known artist removes the filling from old stuffed animals then sews the “skins” together to create a story within each installation of her Skin Rug Collection. The idea initially may seem a little weird, but you won’t believe your eyes when you see Agustina’s masterpieces.

Her inspiration for the cozy artwork comes from her childhood connection with her teddy bear, Pepe, and oriental rugs. The artist noted in an interview,

I’ve also always enjoyed the symmetry of oriental rugs, and I had just discovered that they tell stories about people’s lives. In that matter, they’re like a book. You read them. This notion inspired me to take on the design in a more personal way. Every child in the world has a special relationship with a stuffed animal or a toy, and this relationship grows throughout time.

Give Cast-Off Toys to a New Home

Many of us may not be as artistically gifted as Agustina, but there are still other ways we can give our child(ren)’s old toys a new life. You can host a stuffed animal collection drive with your friends and family then give your donations to Stuffed Animals for Emergencies, an organization which gives battery-free, plush toys to children in crisis situations. Or consider giving plastic toys to children in need and keep them out of landfills with Second Chance Toys, a group bringing playful adventures to little ones on East Coast America.

Here are some other ideas to try:

  • Organize and/or participate in a toy swap with neighbors and friends in your community.
  • Donate toys in good working condition to thrift stores, shelters, daycares, preschools and/or children’s hospitals.
  • Recycle unrepairable toys or those with missing parts. The plastic can be shredded, sorted and reused to make other products.

How do you repurpose your kid(s)’s unwanted toys? Leave me note in the comments; I’d love to hear how other parents are managing their little ones’ toy boxes.

Image credit: Missusdoubleyou via photopin cc

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