Last week’s global Strike For Climate (and the continuing strikes this weekend) has got me thinking more about the impact of collecting on the environment. It’s something that crosses my mind often. I spend a lot of time trying to reduce waste and recycle and reuse things and I often feel the well, I suppose, hypocrisy, of my collections, when consumerism and commercialism are huge factors in global warming. Every time I walk the toy aisles lately, I feel a little sad and, I have to confess guilty, at the mountains of plastic on sale. So, I thought this week I’d look at some possible ideas for reducing the impact of collecting dolls on the planet.
1 Stop buying new dolls
Yeah, I know it sounds a bit extreme and somewhat defeats the purpose of collecting, but it would solve a lot of problems. I’m not likely to do it either, but perhaps we don’t have to stop altogether. Maybe we can just reduce the number of new dolls we buy. Perhaps it’s just a matter of defining and refining our collections, and buying just what we really love, and not everything. There is often a rush when new dolls are released or we find new dolls on shop shelves. But instead of thinking ‘I’ll buy them all,’ maybe we just need to take stock and ask ourselves, ‘do I really need them?’ If the heart says ‘yes,’ then by all means buy that beauty, but if it doesn’t, walk away, and be happy with what we already have.
‘In you go.’
2 Buy second hand
Vintage collectors rejoice! It may be that you’re doing your thing to save the planet. I often think about what would happen if, for some reason, new dolls were no longer produced. For one thing, it would make all of our collections more valuable and sought after. And I for one, wouldn’t be too put out, as I love collecting second hand dolls. Ok, I would be a little bit put out, but I’d console myself by buying second hand and vintage. It’s recycling and reusing after all, especially if you’re buying dolls from flea markets, thrift stores or tip shops. (For those who don’t know what a tip shop is, it’s a shop at the local rubbish dump site, where trash is sorted and any good items are separated and sold.) You’re saving dolls from landfill or a life floating in our oceans, and that is a win for our planet and your collection.
‘Oh, hello, didn’t see you there.’
3 Dispose carefully
This is, of course, the most important point of all. Don’t throw dolls or clothes out. Even trashed ones. Almost everything has a value to someone. I cringe when I hear collectors say things like, ‘Oh I had a doll like that but her hair was cut/had pen marks on her/a broken limb/whatever, so I threw it in the bin.’ Dolls can be re-rooted, limbs can be fixed and replaced. Pen marks can be removed (in most cases). Even if you don’t want the item in your collection, someone else might, if only for spare parts. And artists are often looking for dolls, whole or in pieces, to use in their art. Social media makes it easy to advertise items and find them a new home, even if you offer the item free if the person who wants it pays postage. A new purpose can usually be found for most things. I have a friend who does amazing things with fashions that other people call trashed. He’ll dye the faded or yellowed pieces, remodel or repair the damaged and make something new and fantastic from something most people would consign to the bin. It just takes a little imagination and the determination not to take the easy way out and throw things away. And on a sombre note, make sure those who will be disposing of our collections when we’re gone, know the worth and value of them, so they can move them on responsibly.
‘Nothing to see here, move along.’
4 Planet friendly packaging
Ok, this one is little harder, but one thing I hate is all the plastic that dolls are (mostly) packaged in. Even the dolls that are sold in cardboard packaging (Integrity, I’m looking at you) present problems for recycling, as there are often magnetic closures, or plastic ties glued into the structure or the boxes are too difficult to breakdown for recycling. I wish manufacturers would take more care in their packaging. Maison Battatt, who produce the Lori and My Generation dolls have (in general) recyclable boxes and environment friendly dyes and prints, with very few plastic pieces used. I would love all doll manufacturers to follow their lead. Maybe we, as collectors, just have to ask them.
Update: As Zendelle has mentioned in her comment below, if you sew for your dolls, thrift shops are a great source for fabrics, instead of buying new. You can often find clothing items in otherwise expensive fabrics for a bargain price that are perfect for cutting down for dolls clothes. Check out the lingerie too, often silks and satin can be found there. Handbags are great for cutting down for belts and doll sized handbags too.
Update 2: If you buy dolls by post, hang on to that packaging material and boxes, and re-use to post or store things where you can. If you can’t use it, again, put the word out on social media, I’m sure there’ll be someone who posts regularly who’ll be happy to take it off your hands.
If you have any other ideas or suggestions, please leave a comment or use the contact page at the end of the first article of this blog.
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