Retoy is a social enterprise dealing with the recycling of children´s toys while at the same teaching awareness about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Accordingly, Retoy aims to teach children about their rights and about sustainable consumption by giving them an opportunity to exchange toys with other children instead of buying new. The business idea is simple: it´s better for the environment if children recycle their toys instead of throwing them away. Furthermore, playing is something that unites children, anywhere and everywhere, which makes toys and games an excellent tool for children to practice and learn about sustainability. If everyone on this planet were to consume energy and resources like today, it would require three planets, not one. An average Swedish child consumes approximately 536 toys during its childhood, which is a scary indication of an unsustainable consumption pattern adults encourage and pass on to children. However, this pattern can be broken by changing people´s perception on consumption and sustainability in a new and innovative way.
Retoy thus uses the curiosity and creativity in children to awaken the understanding that everyone can be part of shaping and playing the way to a better world. Through playful and joyful activities, children get to experience how much fun it is to be environmentally conscious while at the same time learning more about their rights. Consequently, they will develop an excitement of bringing home new recycled toys without reinforcing a devastating model of consume and discard.
Additionally, by teaching awareness about the Convention on the Rights of the Child (i.e. all children´s rights to play under paragraph 31), Retoy wants to ensure that the next generation of consumers become aware of the relationship between their actions, the lives of others and the global ecosystem. Retoy believes that if children recognise their rights, and understand how they can live these rights fully while respecting the rights of others, they will be equipped to make better choices in the world that they shape.
Retoy was founded by Soledad Piñero Misa in 2011 in the legal form of a joint-stock company and a foundation. Since its establishment, it has reached over 500 000 children through various playing activities and educational workshops throughout the country. Moreover, more than 24 000 children have donated and swapped approximately 65 000 toys with each other sparing the environment of nearly 200 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
One of Retoy´s many activities and workshops consist of so called “Retoy Labs” providing the opportunity for children to create their own toys using recycled material from old and damaged ones. To make the labs sustainable, Retoy actively removes toys that contain dangerous chemicals. In this respect, parents to the participating children need to use a checklist where they declare that recycled toys are safe. The recycled material have thus been carefully sorted out not to expose the children to any health risks. On this basis, the labs facilitate for the children to practice sustainable consumption while at the same time increase their knowledge of their rights as children. Each lab is led by trained pedagogues and involves children aged four to ten. Retoy Lab is currently conducted in connection with various preschools around the country. In 2014, the labs involved 1900 children and 40 trained pedagogues.
In addition to the labs, Retoy offers second hand toys to newly arrived refugees.