The founder of Bristol’s only toy library, Annie Berry, is on a mission to help families save money and reduce their environmental impact by recycling and reusing toys in the community. Established in 2015, the South Bristol toy library has since relocated to Bedminster and now boasts a collection of over 1,400 toys.

Annie Berry was inspired to start the toy library after returning from New Zealand, where toy libraries are common. With funding from Bristol European Green Capital 2015, she initially bought micro scooters that parents could rent out to test before purchasing. This initiative proved successful, and the library was able to secure a larger venue on West Street in Bristol.

Partnering with the St Philips recycling center, the toy library launched a pilot project to rescue toys from ending up in landfills. This effort highlighted the significant amount of resources being wasted and led to more toys being made available at the library for children to enjoy.

Currently, the toy library serves 688 children with 140 active members and 260 loans since the start of the year. Each session sees an average of 50 parents and children participating in the library’s activities. Stacy Yelland, who now oversees the library, notes that families utilize the toy library to support the environment, access toys they may not have space for or afford, and provide children with non-gender-specific playthings.

Volunteer Ava Lorenc, a member of the climate group ‘Mum’s rebellion,’ emphasizes the importance of utilizing libraries and reducing plastic toy consumption. The toy library operates every other Saturday from 10:00 to 12:00 at St Michael’s and All Angels Church, offering family memberships for £15 per year with reduced rates available if needed.

In a world where consumerism often leads to unnecessary waste, the South Bristol toy library provides a sustainable and cost-effective solution for families. By promoting toy reuse and recycling, the library not only benefits the community but also encourages a more environmentally conscious approach to playtime. As the library continues to grow and serve more families, its impact on reducing waste and promoting sustainability will only increase.

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