What are toy libraries? (and why they make sense!)

Posted on: July 13, 2020

Let’s talk about toy libraries – a concept that is as simple as it sounds and one that is helping many families to own their impact AND save money.

A library for toys

Access your inner-child for a moment and think about how exciting it would be to walk into a toy store and know that you could choose anything you wanted from the shelves and take it home with you that same day.

Wall-to-wall shelf filled with colourful toys

It's just like a regular library - but with toys!

That’s what it feels like walking into a toy library too.

You choose the items that appeal to you, take them home, play with them and then, a few weeks later, taken them back and get new toys. It’s just like a regular library, only possibly more fun!

Five reasons why we love toy libraries

1. They reduce household waste

Think about it – your kids get new toys every few weeks to play with, but you don’t have to deal with the packaging, or worry about the waste you’ll be sending to landfill once your child’s interest in it wanes.

2. Your kids can try lots of new things

Learning through play is important which is why many parents are keen to give their children access to a broad range of toys. This is great, but owning the toys outright doesn’t add to this experience – it just means you have a whole load of toys that you need to find a permanent home for once the novelty of playing with them has worn off. When you use a toy library you’re changing them over regularly (there’s normally a three-week loan period) so there is always a fresh set of toys to get excited about. 

A father and son playing with toy cars

Your local toy library will have so many (package-free) toys to choose from.

3. It saves you money

Yes, you’ll need to pay an annual membership fee at your local toy library, but it’s far cheaper than buying toys to own. Most toy libraries are run locally as a not-for-profit, so your membership fees (typically $65-$100 for a family) will be used to buy new toys and help keep the library running.

4. You’ll meet like-minded people living in your community

Most toy libraries are open once or twice a week at a nominated time so people can come together to exchange their toys. They are run on volunteer power too, so members are often required to pitch in and do a semi-regular shifts – either helping behind the counter or with fundraisers.

5. They teach kids valuable lessons

This one is super important! By borrowing rather than buying the toys you can embed a healthy approach to impact-owning from a young age. Toy libraries offer an opportunity to talk about the fact plastic lasts forever and that owning fewer things is good for the planet. They also show that there are some pretty cool alternatives to shopping for new items. What’s more, toy libraries can also encourage sharing and teach kids the importance of looking after other people’s things and the need to be patient (because just like a library, sometimes you do have to wait for that popular item that you really want).

Bonus reason – they can give toys another life!

If you have well-maintained toys that are no longer being used you might want to see if your local toy library accepts donations. Some (although not all) will happily add them to their existing stock so that more children can use them.

Toy libraries in Perth and regional WA

Have we managed to convert you yet? We hope so! There are some 30-odd toy libraries in operation in WA. And if there isn’t one near you, why not start your own – the Toy Libraries of Australia website has everything you need to know about setting one up.

two children surrounded by colourful toy blocks

There are 30+ toy libraries in operation in WA.


Northern suburbs

Western suburbs

Eastern suburbs

Southern suburbs


Share your toy library fun and top tips

We’d love to know about your own experiences with toy libraries so tag us on Facebook (@wastesortedwa) or Instagram (@wastesorted), use #wastesorted when you share photos or email us.

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