Real Life: I Started a Toy Library

This is one of our Real Life interviews, in which we talk to people who are doing good for the Earth.

Are you ever overwhelmed by how many toys your kids have? Does it seem your kids outgrow or lose interest in toys almost as fast as they receive them? Molly Stern, one of the founders of the Minneapolis Toy Library, created a community solution to solve these problems and decrease the number of toys winding up in the trash.

For those of us who don’t know, what’s a toy library?

A Toy Library is just like a library that lends books, only we are lending toys that are geared towards kids ages 0-5 years old. We have toys in many different categories that allow for learning and development to take place while children explore and play.

Tell us how the toy library began.

The library began when a friend of mine from college visited me during my maternity leave. She talked about how quickly her son’s interests were changing and how she’s drawn to the theories and practices of minimalist lifestyles. She said she had read about Toy Libraries and wished one existed. I saw an email come through from the Center for the New American Dream about starting a project in your community. We got to work and achieved our first matching grant. The call was put out to find more people to help us get off the ground and luckily for us Rebecca and Rosie quickly jumped aboard! They both bring a specific skill set to this organization, both in terms of being moms themselves, but also having expertise in inventory structure and passion for recycling. Fast forward three years later, now we are operating with myself, Rosie and Rebecca and an array of incredible volunteers that help us staff each lending event and promotional outreach events.

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