Can You Recycle Stuffed Animals?

One of the indispensable parts of raising children is buying them stuffed animals. These stuffed animals keep them company and may even serve as their friends until they get older. But, sadly, with time, your kids’ stuffed animals may give in to wear and tear, or your kids simply won’t want them anymore.

As an adult, too, you may be partial to stuffed animals. They come in different shapes, sizes, and colors and are no longer considered for kids alone. If you enjoy decorating your place with teddy bears, you likely buy most of the ones that catch your fancy whenever you go to the store.

Many situations can arise that’ll require you to dispose of your teddies. For one, they may have already become susceptible to wear and tear, or you may just be looking to free up some space for an upgrade.

This may lead you to wonder the most suitable ways to dispose of them, and we’ll delve adequately into various methods. But most importantly, we’ve written this blog post answer questions such as whether you can recycle stuffed animals and alternative forms of disposing of them. Dive right in!

Are Stuffed Animals Recyclable?

Of late, we’ve noticed that if waste disposal continues improperly, the environment may be in imminent danger. As such, governments and several organizations have provided incentives for proper waste disposal. They’ve also made it easier for us to access appropriate disposal systems like recycling centers and companies.

If you’ve joined the movement to go green, that’s an excellent decision. But, of course, since you prioritize recycling your waste materials, you’ll certainly wonder if you can recycle your stuffed animals.

Well, sadly, most recycling centers don’t accept stuffed animals. So when you dump your teddy bears in the refuse bin, they’ll end up in our landfills.

Since stuffed animals are mostly made up of clothing, buttons, beads, and cotton, they’ll take a very long time to decompose. Precisely, the average teddy bear takes at least fifteen years before complete decomposition can take place, and that’s a long time for a material to sit on a landfill.

However, the stuffed animals’ other materials like beads and buttons can take hundreds of years to decompose. You see, they’re made from materials like glass and plastic, which means they’re non-biodegradable.

They can be quite harmful to the environment, particularly the plastic beads you’ll find in some stuffed animals. Even when decomposition finally takes place, the tiny pieces of leftovers will remain in the soil and never really go away.

So, while there are no recyclable solutions for stuffed animals just yet, we still have to find proper disposal methods for them. If your stuffed animals are still in good condition, you can take them to a textile store or even hand them down to friends and family. However, you can’t recycle teddy bears, and you should avoid condemning them to landfills.

Can You Donate Stuffed Animals?

If you’ve amassed a collection of stuffed animals for yourself or your kids over the years, you may eventually have to declutter someday. Because, like it or not, you can’t hold on to them forever. It could be because you want an upgrade or are simply tired of looking at the same ones over and over again.

Whatever the case may be, one of your disposal options is to donate the stuffed animals. So yes, you can donate them, but that’s subject to some conditions.

Several charities look forward to donations like this, as frankly, they save additional costs. However, they don’t accept teddy bears that aren’t in excellent condition.

You cannot donate stuffed animals with rips in them. They also have to be very clean and in odorless conditions. As such, if you have stuffed animals that have seen regular use over the years, you may be unable to donate them to charitable organizations.

Homeless people are also excellent recipients of your stuffed animals. They make great cuddle buddies on cold winter nights, and the homeless people in your area will appreciate these donations. However, please ensure that you properly clean the teddy bears and put them in a presentable condition before handing them over.

Lastly, if you have nephews and nieces, they’re also wonderful recipients of your stuffed animals. Chances are they’ve even been eyeing a few and would be appreciative if you gave it to them. Once again, these teddies have to be in the uttermost presentable condition before you give them to your nieces and nephews.

Can You Put Stuffed Animals in the Dryer?

At times, spring cleaning in your home may extend to your stuffed animals. If you cuddle a bunch of them often, you may need to clean them, as they could come in contact with your sweat more often than not. Your teddy bears can also catch some dust occasionally. To keep them odorless and clean, you’ll have to clean them often.

If you’re also looking to donate some of your stuffed animals, you’ll have to clean them thoroughly to make them presentable. Washing them is pretty easy; you simply have to put them in a pillowcase and knot it at the top as a form of protection.

Now, you may be wondering if you can put them on the dryer right after. If you opt for manual drying, it’ll undoubtedly take a couple of days at the very least. Most stuffed animals are thick and have cotton or other paddings in them, and this may cause them to take days or even weeks to dry off properly.

Well, you can place them in the dryer to save yourself the time that would otherwise go into manual drying. However, not every stuffed animal can go in the dryer. You can find out if yours is suitable for a washing machine and dryer by looking at the instructions on its label.

If yours has faded away, you can use your computer to check the internet for specific instructions about cleaning that particular toy as provided by its manufacturer. If it’s machine safe, you can place it on the rack in your dryer to allow it to dry without tumbling around.

Are Stuffed Animals Bad for the Environment?

As much as we enjoy the company of stuffed animals, they do more harm than good to our environment. This is because most stuffed animals are made from non-sustainable materials. Here, these materials can’t be reused, and their production takes a literal negative toll on the environment.

They go through long production processes that require fuel consumption and the release of harmful substances into the environment. Now, let’s simplify this process for you.

Let’s say a teddy bear is made from clothing, cotton and buttons; here’s how the production process would go. The manufacturers would first produce the fabrics for the teddy bears.

Unfortunately, textile production requires high water consumption and chemicals, and some of this chemical waste leaks into the atmosphere or gets dumped into our water bodies. The production process also takes up a lot of energy, which leads to a reasonable depletion of our energy supply.

While cotton production may not be particularly detrimental to our environment, other items that manufacturers include in stuffed animals are buttons and beads or beans. Unfortunately, these materials are made from plastic, and plastic has one of our environment’s most destructive production processes.

Stuffed animals bring us artificial bundles of joy but are bad for the environment in the long run.

What Can You Do With Old Stuffed Animals?

Since we’ve already established that we can’t recycle stuffed animals, and throwing them in the refuse bin will lead to them ending up in our landfills, we need alternative and safe disposal methods.

As such, in this section, we’ll show you innovative ways to dispose of your unwanted stuffed animals without endangering the environment further. So please, read up and stay informed.

1. Backpacks Or Purses

An excellent and exciting way to dispose of your old stuffed animals is to take them apart and turn them into backpacks or purses. Here, you’ll need seam removers, a pair of scissors, some straps, zippers and needle and thread or a sewing machine.

Take apart the seam at the center of the stuffed animal, and take out all the stuffing in it. Then, of course, we’ll get to how to dispose of these stuffings well, as they can also endanger the environment if you don’t do it properly.

Now, back to this creative hack. Ensure that you choose a division that’ll make the former stuffed animal look like a purse or backpack, and then sew the zipper into that space. By now, you should have a purse or backpack that zips and unzips easily, with just enough space to store some items or books.

Then, if you want, you can sew some straps to the purse or backpack, add a few buttons here and there, and you’ll be good to go.

Regarding the stuffing in the teddies, you can use the beads or beans in them to make jewelry or simply consult the next jack we’ll provide you. If it’s cotton in it, you can save them up to make plushy pillows.

2. Stuffing for Beanbags

If you’re using your former stuffed animals to make backpacks and purses for yourself or your kids, you can use the stuffing for beanbags. If you already have some beanbags losing their soft paddings, you can take them open and stuff them with the cotton from your former teddies.

Alternatively, you can also choose to make your own beanbag from scratch. This is an excellent project that’ll keep your kids busy, as they can be in charge of stuffing the beanbag. You’ll need a large textile, a beanbag draft pattern, scissors, and a sewing machine for this craft.

3. Animal Jars

Here’s another decorative idea for your home or kids’ bedroom. Did you know that you can stuff your plushies in sizable jars and place them on cupboards in your home to make give off an aesthetically appealing view? Well, now you do!

If you have stuffed animals in different colors, place them in jars and arrange those jars in your kids’ bedroom, yours, or even your living room. Now, you’ll have a Frankenstein laboratory, but one that won’t frighten your kids.

4. Your Very Own Zoo!

You can also commission a handy person to make you a wooden zoo for your unwanted stuffed animals. Everyone you get tired of goes in there, and before you know it, you have yourself a beautiful hanging zoo.


Although we cannot recycle stuffed animals, we’re all pretty used to having them around. Hence, we’ve already devised several ways to protect our environment while also enjoying these luxuries.

This article contains sufficient information on the proper disposal of stuffed animals. So please, read up and make better decisions.

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About Rinkesh

A true environmentalist by heart ❤️. Founded Conserve Energy Future with the sole motto of providing helpful information related to our rapidly depleting environment. Unless you strongly believe in Elon Musk‘s idea of making Mars as another habitable planet, do remember that there really is no 'Planet B' in this whole universe.