The solution to sustainable gifting this Earth Month

As we mark Earth Month, Queensland parents are encouraged to think twice about buying plastic toys and give the gift of experience instead.

Queensland Mum of two Melissa Soutar has created SPARK POP. The first online kids’ experience marketplace in Australia that’s also a certified Social Enterprise by Social Traders.

The idea came about a couple of years ago when Melissa Soutar was doing the annual post -Christmas clear-out.

“During the cleanout, we threw out about two-thirds of a wheelie bin of plastic, broken toys. It was heartbreaking,” Ms Soutar said.

“We had three birthday parties for the boys’ friends soon after, and I thought, how can I gift another toy?”

She ended up buying the children an ‘experience’ present but found the process a bit burdensome. So she created the solution.


What is Spark Pop?

SPARK POP is an online platform that offers everything from attractions to live entertainment, wildlife experiences and tours with businesses that specialise in safe, enriching experiences for kids aged three to 15 years old and their families.

SPARK POP has partnered with TerraCycle’s Zero Waste Box solution, making it easy for parents and carers to recycle their children’s toys.

Several SPARK POP experience providers have a box in-store so you can drop off your pre-loved toys. Once filled, the Zero Waste Box will divert up to 20kg of toys from landfill.

Currently, 80% of all toys end up in waste. Rather than ending their life in landfill, you can donate any item used for play, including electronic toys, to be recycled.

Once the Zero Waste Toy Box has been filled, it will be shipped to TerraCycle, sorted, turned into plastic granules, and transformed into new products.

Girl Holding Save the Planet Sign for Earth Month

Kids today are looking for eco-conscious purchases


“I chose TerraCycle as a reputable and internationally recognised organisation who have been working towards eliminating the idea of waste for 20 years,” Ms Soutar said.

“I wanted to ensure SPARK POP could make recycling toys easily accessible in a responsible way. Supporting local business, active children, and a healthy planet.”

April 2023 marks Earth Month, a time to raise awareness for environmental issues and make conscious choices to look after our world.

Melissa shares three easy ways to reduce our environmental footprint that won’t cost the Earth but will help look after it.


LoveAvery early learning toys MREC

Thoughtful gifting is sustainable gifting

An experience gift is thoughtful and memorable. Some options include:

Gift Experiences: Everlasting memories, new interests, making connections. New or unique experiences activate the brain’s neuroplasticity, making us more intelligent, brighter, and motivated.

Gift Cards: Children love to shop! This is an ideal opportunity for some consumer independence. It may be an EFTPOS, Movie, or SPARK POP Gift Card so they can choose their own experience (attraction, wildlife encounter, outdoor adventure, indoor play, live show/game tickets) when and where they like!

Go Green: Give something that engages them in the garden, such as seeds, a bee hotel, or a flower press.

Adopt an Animal: Several programs offer adoption or sponsorship programs for animal lovers and children who care about the conservation of Australian habitats.

For every $25 spent on experiences, it means one less kilogram of plastic is produced in the making of toys.

“By gifting with SPARK POP, you’re also helping to create a positive impact by reducing toy waste through our toy recycling and re-play initiatives and contributing to The Smith Family’s education program,” says Melissa.


Child Climbing Rope Course As Experience Gift for Earth Month

Experience gifts are better for the planet AND for our kids!

Noosa Council

Consider rebalancing quality and quantity for our kids

Reconsider the number of new toys and games we buy, or others buy for our children and instead shift our focus to quality.

Quality is about the materials it’s made with and how suitable it is for satisfying needs and purposes. How functional is it? What features are there? Will this sustain over stages of learning and development with the child?

Many toys are available through pre-loved marketplaces, often near new. The sharing economies are gaining momentum globally, and we’re now seeing the rise of Toy Libraries, Toy Rentals, Toy Swaps and online Toy Sharing Platforms.


Avoid waste

This doesn’t cost a cent! Simply reduce the amount of material you put in the waste bin.

 Find a zero-waste toy recycling solution like SPARK POP and TerraCycle’s for your unwanted and degraded toys.

Pass your best toys and games to friends, family, daycare or charity stores.

Sell your toys on Marketplace. Or exchange your toys at a local toy swap (SPARK POP event coming to Sunshine Coast & Brisbane soon).

Related Reads

Heron Island: A turtle-y awesome eco-adventure for families
Nature IS nurture: Connecting your kids to the environment

Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids events, attractions & things to do with kids, schools and education, school holiday guides, health & wellbeing for families, parenting and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD.


Noosa Council

Search tags: Environment | Party | Shopping
By Guest Contributor

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