Girl playing with large plastic blocks and toy cars

Plastic Toys Creative Reuse

Ninety percent of toys today are made from plastic, and most end up landfill or the ocean in less than a year (Source). In this episode, get ideas for ways you can divert plastic toys from landfill – either to more children, to artists or to be made into plastic furniture.

You can listen to my original podcast episode on the creative reuse of plastic toys from November 2019 here in this YouTube video:

Places to Give Away Small Plastic Toys

  • Community festivals at the children’s area in the prize bucket
  • Halloween as an alternative treat
  • Attachments on fidget quilts
  • Donate to creative reuse centers near you

Mail them to Tiny Toy Co. – Check out the educational kits they make from recycled plastic toys, such as:

Artists & Designers Working with Plastic Toys

Hiroshi Fuji

His exhibit Jurassic Plastic has travelled to Australia, Japan and Thailand. He collected 50,000+ toys through a community barter project that he invented called ‘Kaekko’ (which is Japanese for ‘swapsies’). The way people would exchange items was at events called Kaekko Bazaars. Kids bring in unwanted items, which were often plastic toys, and bankers who were also children would assess the value of the items. The kids would earn kaeru points. The word kaeru means both “to exchange” and “frog” so the program has a frog as its mascot. You could also earn points by attending workshops that were part of the event – workshops where you might learn how to creatively reuse plastic bags for example. There have been thousands of Kaekko Bazaars all over the world since, and he would gather many plastic toys at these events.

For more info on Kaekko and other community art projects in Japan, check out An Overview of Art Projects in Japan.

Margaux Lange

Margaux makes jewelry from Barbies.

Freya Jobbins

Freya makes assemblages or sculptures from plastic doll parts.

Tom Deininger

Tom makes optical illusion sculptures from plastic toys and other plastic items.


ecoBirdy shreds unwanted plastic toys and makes them into kid-sized furniture in Belgium.

TED Talk by ecoBirdy founder Joris Vanbriel

Crafts You Can Make from Recycled Toys

Bowl from plastic melted toys by Skaie Knox

Daruma from plastic Easter egg by Blick

Happy Meal Toy Wreath by Rebecca Farrant

Piñata-Inspired Animal Charms by Crafty Chica

Party Animals by Flamingo Toes

Muck N Brass

Muck N Brass has been offering “Kitsch Kristmas Wreath Workshops” where people make wreaths covered with recycled plastic toys and other creatively reused holiday decor.

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