Listen: Author Stef Gemmill talks with Laura Bennett about her new book 'Toy Mountain'
Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas (then Boxing Day) there are a lot of items flying off the shelves and into our homes right now.
Some are conscientious purchases, thoughtfully acquired with that special person in mind whom we can’t wait to gift it to. Others less so, motivated simply by the price and our proximity to the store, or our “want” to just “buy something”.
There’s nothing wrong with getting gifts and buying what you need at a good price, but the challenge author Stef Gemmill sees is that as that “need” wears off, a lot of our items are thrown into landfill and – especially with children’s toys – contribute to the abundance of plastic waste.
One solution Stef sees is to not only reduce what we buy, but re-embrace the repair and reuse mentality of generations past.
One solution is to not only reduce what we buy, but re-embrace the repair and reuse mentality of generations past.
Contrasting her own upbringing to that of her children, Stef told Hope 103.2, while she grew up with beloved hand-me-downs that she would constantly send to the “toy hospital”, her son has access to “so many consumable toys with short lives”.
“There’s very few toys made from recycled plastics,” Stef said.
“If you walk into your kids bedroom and scan the room, [a lot] of those toys will end up in landfill.”
In her new book Toy Mountain, Stef writes about a little boy named Sam whose dreams seem to have come true when he becomes a toy tester for the Tiny Hands Toy Factory, and his house is filled with plastic toys in all sorts of shapes and colours. Soon enough though, all of Sam’s shiny new toys begin to tarnish and break, and he’s left with an ever-growing pile of toys he readily abandons.
Stef’s hope is that Toy Mountain will inspire people to purchase a few high-quality or recycled toys for their children, and also invite them to think creatively about how they can re-purpose some of the items already around them.
“Something [my family] took up over lockdown was doing up and repairing old bikes,” Stef said.
“We managed to get some really cool BMX bikes out of the hard rubbish, and with minimal spend of money were able to turn them into great park bikes.
“You’ve just got to think creatively and be hands on.”
“You’ve just got to think creatively and be hands on,” – children’s author Stef Gemmill
Stef’s book Toy Mountain is co-produced with Katherine Hall and available now.
Listen to Stef Gemmill’s full conversation with Laura Bennett in the player above.