8 Reasons to Choose Recycled Plastic for Your Outdoor Activities

Summer has finally arrived, and if your family is anything like ours, you’ll be spending most of your time outdoors.

While many adventures need nothing more than a good imagination, we’d be lying if we told you that our backyards are free of a few simple items. Interestingly enough, most of them are made from recycled plastic! And, while we’re all for avoiding plastic when it comes to anything that might get close to our children’s digestive system, we’re 100% confident that recycled plastic is the way to go when it comes to outdoor activities. 

Need a little convincing? Here are 8 reasons you should choose recycled plastic too.


1. Environmentally friendly

We could write an entire article on the harmful effects of plastic to the environment. Plastic definitely gets a bad rap, and rightfully so. There’s so much of it out there, most of which just gets tossed into landfills or the ocean where it never really breaks down, then pumps harmful toxins into the air. 

Now, let’s consider the alternative: wood.

We love natural wood products for our homes. However, if we take a step back and consider trees as a precious resource that are quickly being depleted around the world, it makes us reconsider how necessary it is to have wooden furniture and play things outdoors. Trees provide us with a clean air supply, reduce noise pollution, improve our water quality, help prevent erosion, provide food and building materials, create shade, and help make our landscapes look beautiful. 

Recycled plastic is the perfect alternative to the use of wood for outdoor play activities. When you buy recycled plastic, you’re reusing material instead of creating new; and that’s always a good thing for the environment. 

2. Long Lasting 

Kids have a tendency to destroy anything they come in contact with; and that’s without the threat of weather damage.

While wooden play things (play houses or swing sets) can take a lot of wear and tear, recycled plastic simply stands up to long-term use a lot better because it doesn’t suffer the same kind of weather abuse as their wooden counterparts.

For example, over time a wooden picnic table will corrode. Meanwhile, a recycled plastic picnic table will not. It will stay structurally sound whether it’s used indoors or out; and it won’t be damaged by humidity, heat or freezing temperatures. And, once you’re done with it, it can be recycled again into something entirely new. 

3. Cost Effective 

On a similar note, when you buy recycled plastic furniture or play toys, they have the potential to last a lifetime. 

These items are already the more cost-effective option than similar wooden options because they are made of completely recycled materials instead of new lumber, but because they are so much more durable than wood, you won’t have to replace them nearly as often (if ever).

4. Safer

Smooth and polished, recycled plastic is often manufactured such that there are no rough edges or sharp corners for small children to hurt themselves on. You also don’t have to worry about the risk of splinters.

Product Recommendation

If you’re looking for kids toys made from recycled plastic, be sure to check out Green Toys. Their awesome line of classic children’s toys constructed from recycled plastic and other environmentally friendly materials are our go-to gift for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Not only do they help reduce fossil fuel use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they are also improving the overall health and happiness of the planet.

In fact, Green Toys (and many other companies who manufacture recycled plastic goods) use recycled milk containers as the main ingredient in creating their toys. That’s right, the same plastic milk jugs that your family drinks from every day.

When you finish your milk and toss the container in the recycling bin, these milk containers are collected at your curb by a local recycling company, who then sorts them from all the other types of plastic. Next, the milk containers are reprocessed into super clean fresh plastic. This plastic material  is called high-density polyethylene (or HDPE), which is considered one of the safest, cleanest plastics around.

5. Easy to clean

Have your kids ever decided to paint the fence? Or been painting at their art easel, and “accidentally” missed the paper? You can scrub all you want, but the chances of that wooden toy getting back to its original clean are slim, especially if the paint or stain has been compromised or is worn.

On the other hand, recycled plastic wipes down quite easily. You can let your kids play to their heart’s content, then clean it off to use another day (or for another activity). 

For example, our kids could spend all day playing at their recycled plastic picnic table. One minute, they’re happily playing with play doh. Then, they’re asking for something to eat. We have no problem taking a wet cloth to the table in between activities so our kids stay healthy and the table remains sanitary. 

6. Minimal Repair or Repainting 

Recycled plastic furniture and toys don’t need to be painted. You simply buy it in the color you want.

However, wooden activity sets and furniture don’t have the same luxury. Unless you want a natural wood finish, you will likely have to repaint or re-stain the pieces multiple times. In some cases, this process must be done on an annual basis. We certainly don’t have time for that sort of upkeep. 

7. Stylish

Most wooden designed outdoor furniture sets are available in one utilitarian design. While practical, it may not be exactly what you’re looking for. With recycled plastic, you can choose both the color and style to fit your needs and situation.

8. Innovative

From the kitchen to the beach, the uses for recycled plastic are practically limitless.

This is especially true of the KidNic picnic table. While we are loving this table in our backyard, the innovative design of this KidNic picnic table allows it to be folded flat quickly for convenient storage or transport (we were even able to toss it into our sedan for a trip to Grandma’s).

Setup only takes 20 seconds and does not require any assembly. Furthermore, this recycled plastic picnic table is super compact and lightweight, so it can be used in small playrooms, patios, terraces or eat-in kitchens.

With enough room for up to six young children (and supporting 600 lbs of weight), this picnic table sold us on recycled plastic for all of our outdoor activities this summer. As an added bonus, it’s made in the USA!


So, before you purchase another piece of wooden furniture, be it a play set or picnic table, check out the recycled plastic alternatives. We promise you won’t be disappointed. 

Kids love to play outside with or without a playset or picnic table to keep them busy. If you’re looking for more fun ways to keep your kids active this summer, check out 10 Backyard Water Activities on a Budget.

Photo Credit: Ashley SiskOfer El-Hashahar (modified into a collage), Sarah M.

Sources: SavATree

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Ashley Sisk

Ashley lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children and Kitty Paw. She's a work-from-home mom with a natural light photography business and a passion for sharing everything she knows. Since leaving the corporate world, she now spends her time chasing her preschooler, nursing her new baby, writing and finding ways to enjoy life. You can find her on Facebook, Google + or on her website.

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