small plastic toys ready to be reused or recycled Chances are at some time or another you’ve found yourself experiencing a bit of hesitation over what to do with a small plastic toy or a little plastic doodad that no longer has a home or serves a purpose. You stare at the thing for a while and turn it about in your hand as you try to recall how exactly it came into your life. Then perhaps you place it on the table and ponder what to do with it.

Putting it in the trash or recycling bin* doesn’t seem quite right. It’s cute, maybe it’s useful, and it simply needs a new someone to find it’s potential and inner magic. Problem is, you don’t know who that someone is…until now. I have found that someone – actually, the someones. Enter Shana Astrachan and emiko oye.

Shana and emiko are two incredibly creative San Francisco-based jewelry designers, collaborators, and friends with a commitment to repurposing objects in their art. I met them at the Environmental Action Center & reMake Lounge Launch Party in downtown San Francisco several months ago, where we had a chance to chat about their work and artistic pursuits. But what triggered my curiosity the most was the flier they handed me for their workshop called Accessorize with Toys.

The workshop, developed by emiko for the 2006 MakerFaire, teaches basic jewelry-making techniques using discarded/recycled toy and game parts as the primary medium. They have been teaching it together since 2007 to children and adults alike. I asked where the raw material, including small plastic toys and board game pieces, used in the workshop came from. The answer was mostly the Scroungers Center for Reusable Art Parts (a.k.a SCRAP) and local thrift stores. And then my inner professional organizer got thinking.

Among the information and pieces of wisdom that organizers like myself impart to our clients are recommendations for appropriate venues for disposing of unwanted items in environmentally responsible ways. It is often easier for an individual to let go of unwanted items when they know those things will be of invaluable use to another. There is also relief knowing that landfill is not the answer.

An untapped resource was at our  fingertips: a community of other organizers, our clients, and friends. I started spreading the word.

The artists are regularly seeking donations of the following:

- small plastic toy and game parts

- plastic “thingies” that are 4” or smaller

- board games with or without missing pieces

- computer keyboard keys

I’m thrilled to report that the first infusion of tiny pieces of plastic detritus has arrived. Before heading to the Bay Area for a visit last week, a friend in Los Angeles scooped up some of his daughter’s underused toy fragments and packed them for the journey. Upon his arrival, he handed me a paper bag that contained three Ziplock® bags filled with a colorful array of that which he called remnants of a Barbie™ Katrina.  (Hence the photo above.)

Please contact emiko directly if you wish to donate any of the items listed above. Or if you feel a spark of creativity coming on, go ahead and remake something on your own!

*In San Francisco residents can put plastic objects and toys of all sizes (no electronics, metal or batteries) in the blue recycling bin for proper disposal!