Wholesale low-environmental-impact beach toys?
January 13, 2020 1:34 PM   Subscribe

I run the beachfront gift shop for an environmental conservancy and I'm trying to make our store 100% plastic-free. I carry these toys already and they are fantastic- but at $24 for the set, they are on the upper end of what people will pay. I'd love to have options in the $5-$15 range, either as a set or a la carte. This has been surprisingly difficult to find, so I'm hoping the hivemind can point me in the right direction.
posted by BuddhaInABucket to Shopping (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How about a frisbee made from recycled fishing nets? I think it might be nice to have a few products made from ocean plastic as a teaching tool.
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:45 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

In place of shovels, what about coconut shells? Cheap and biodegradable.
posted by advicepig at 1:45 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]

Metal pails are cheap and plastic free, but would get hot in the sun.
posted by advicepig at 1:51 PM on January 13

I love the idea of coconut shells, because they could be used as small castle molds too.

My brothers and I used to spend hours building little "villages" made of dozens of round huts grouped together -- a coconut shell would have been perfect for that.
posted by mekily at 1:53 PM on January 13 [2 favorites]

Behrens makes pails that look like the ones that used to be beach toys. I don't see the wholesale prices on their site but even retail they aren't very expensive. Perhaps a garden trowel with a wooden handle to go with the pail would allow you to avoid all plastic.
Seeing advice pig's comment, could you spray paint the outside a light color and add a stenciled design or logo?
posted by Botanizer at 1:55 PM on January 13

Sorry for the Amazon link but these are adorable.

plue these little American made pails?
posted by beccaj at 2:04 PM on January 13

A set of wooden salad tongs would be good too. Wholesale looks cheap and you can get a spoon/scoop part and a "fork" part.
posted by advicepig at 2:07 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

IMHO one of the best way to reduce the environmental impact of beach toys is to have toys that are more than single-use-only. I have almost never seen a beach set that lasted more than 2 trips to the beach. last year i just went to the hardware store at the beach an bought a $5 metal trowel and a galvanized bucket and those show no signs of wear after 6 ish trips
posted by Dr. Twist at 2:12 PM on January 13 [11 favorites]

Paper-and-bamboo kites. Kites are classic beach fare, fun for all ages. They are reusable, biodegradable and inexpensive. They can be semi-disposable or last for years if treated with care. MeMail me if you want more info on that.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:33 PM on January 13 [7 favorites]

Would it be too complicated to break a couple of those packages open and offer them as $4 rentals, with a $20 refundable deposit if they choose to return them?
posted by teremala at 2:33 PM on January 13 [21 favorites]

I'd be super into renting a set of toys. So many people are on vacation and don't want to manage transporting new toys back to their homes.
posted by quince at 2:41 PM on January 13 [16 favorites]

LOVE the idea of rentals.

Coming from a different angle, a search for used beach toys on eBay turns up tons of results. Could you sell toys that are used/secondhand, to make a statement against consumerism? Plenty of great stuff out there that should continue to be used instead of going to the landfill. (Run them through a dishwasher on "warm" to clean them if you feel the need.)

You could buy small tin buckets for ($1.69 each, here), and steel & wood hand trowels ($4.94 each at Home Depot). The handles of the tin buckets may get hot in the sun.

Or buy used tin/steel buckets and hand trowels. I try to buy everything I buy used.
posted by amaire at 2:50 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

Could you sell toys that are used/secondhand

Also: Have a box out for people to donate toys for reuse at the end of their holiday - you'll get stuff from those people who can't be bothered to carry it all home/store it; you get to wash it and sell second hand stuff for cheap at profit. (It does mean your shop probably won't be 100% plastic-free, but maybe you could be "plastic-free and/or resused"?).
posted by penguin pie at 2:58 PM on January 13 [8 favorites]

Re rentals- for that beach in NZ where you dig your own hot tub in the sand we rented a shovel that we just left under the hedge as the store closed before we wanted to leave. Availability for rental drop offs would be something to consider if you have a refundable deposit.
posted by freethefeet at 4:08 PM on January 13

First of all, that is a laudable goal. Our local touristy beach accumulates a ridiculous amount of garbage, and a good chunk of it is the semi-disposable beach toy kind.

If your group runs a beach cleanup, they will probably find a lot of discarded plastic beach toys that could be offered as rentals, second-hand purchases, or simply a free "library" to cut down on the amount of new plastic brought to the beach. If they're beyond use, maybe there's a way to make an installation piece to demonstrate just how much plastic garbage gets left on the beach, like a clear barrel with one week's worth of discarded and recovered toys inside.
posted by subocoyne at 5:21 PM on January 13 [3 favorites]

I'd be more likely to pay for higher quality stuff if I thought I could take it home easily. We use these collapsible pails to save space, but I think they could be packed up quite easily.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:15 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

My parents live at the beach and they collect a huge amount of plastic toys each year. I really like the idea of you selling used items and collecting/buying used stuff, including a rent and return type thing.
posted by vunder at 7:13 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]

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