17 Apr 2020
Malaga, Spain
Resource Efficiency and Sustainable Waste Management

When children grew too old for toys in Ancient Greece, the disposal process played out in style. Young girls would ritualistically dedicate the used toys to Artemis, symbolically acknowledging the end of their youth. Unfortunately, modern day practices are far less civilised — plastic toys often end up in oceans and landfill sites rather than as votive offerings to virgin goddesses.

Recognising this environmental hazard, Osama Baz and his wife established Play Go Round, a toy library based in Malaga, Spain. Under a monthly subscription program, families receive a box of high-quality, sustainable toys tailored to their children’s age and learning development. Subscribers exchange the old box for a new one when the child has finished playing at that particular level.

Play Go Round has set out to challenge consumerist trends that encourage children to ask for new toys, irrespective of the environmental cost. “How could a child, only just starting to string a sentence together, be wired to want these toys so much?” Baz mused. His business aims to instill a fresh attitude among kids and parents alike, which champions playing with fewer, higher quality toys.

Play Go Round may only have held its soft opening in late 2019, but that still recent milestone concluded an impressive planning period. The partners stumbled upon the business concept at their daughter’s 3rd birthday party, when the star attraction received an astronomical number of “trendy” toys from her friends.

Baz quickly realised that the gifts were not suited to his daughter’s development needs. “During the following year, she had a room full of plastic dolls, houses and games that she wasn’t really playing with,” Baz said. These toys, like so many others around the world, were prime candidates for landfill.

To tackle the toy industry’s wastefulness, Baz and his partner did extensive research and consulted several pediatricians and child psychologists. They discovered that children are more likely to become bored with toys if they have an overly wide selection. 

Play Go Round satisfies this pedagogical need by providing a range selection of toys, which families can exchange for new boxes at the appropriate time. Of course, this business model also supports the circular economy by allowing other children to benefit from the toys after they are returned.

Baz hopes that this philosophy of sustainability will impact children’s lives long after they stop receiving boxes from Play Go Round. “Our plan is to nurture our youngest generation with healthy habits towards sustainability,” said Baz, “which gives us a good chance to apply a concept like the circular economy on a global level.”

Happily, Play Go Round has already forged early links with local parents, schools, and even social media influencers. Yet the business still needs to survive in the cut-throat toy industry, while following higher principles than its competitors. Specifically, Baz refuses to advertise directly to children which, at least for now, may put Play Go Round at a disadvantage.

Yet Baz remains undaunted by obstacles — from powerful toy manufacturers to deeply ingrained consumer trends — perhaps thanks to the youthful enthusiasm he and his wife bring to Play Go Round. “We have gone back to being children sometimes,” Baz said, “when we have sat down and selected all the cool toys we get to work with.”

 

Learn more about Play Go Round through the website and Instagram.

Photos courtesy of Play Go Round

David Wood is a freelance writer and researcher based in Beirut. He previously worked in Cairo.David Wood
Growing pains, no more — Spanish library rescues old toys from oceans and landfill sites | The Switchers
Play Go Round Resource efficiency and sustainable waste management
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