I recently got the chance to test out Happy Baton, Hong Kong’s first toy rental subscription service. What’s a toy rental subscription? Well a parent’s dream really! Basically you sign up on Happy Baton’s website, complete a short questionnaire about your child’s age and general likes/dislikes and then the company sends you a monthly delivery of 4-5 high quality, educational toys that your tyke(s) can enjoy. It’s affordable, time-saving, hygienic (the toys are disinfected in a hospital-grade dry steam cleaner, find out more about how they sanitize here), and of course, its incredibly good for the planet- we need to buy less stuff, we need to reuse more, we need to share amongst our community, we need to quit our plastic habit, we need to stop filling our landfills…
Happy Baton, which gets its name from from the baton relay races the founders used to play in high school during gym class, was originally created by working mums Natalie Chow and Jade Poon as a toy library. However, customer feedback made them rethink their original concept. “Hong Kong parents are mostly time poor. The feedback we got is that they didn’t know what toys to pick, there are too many toys to choose from and they don’t want to spend time browsing our online toy catalogue.” Chow tell me. “So we thought: why don’t we ask them about their children by using a simple development survey and pick toys that’s are not only age appropriate but suits their developmental needs!” The rental subscription model has been “overwhelmingly positive”, Chow adds, as “parents love seeing different toys every month, watching their little ones explore and learn.”
I tried and tested the service and below, I share all the reasons why I, a busy mum looking for planet-friendly creative options for my bubba, loved Happy Baton. Read on.
1) It Helps Me Live That Minimalist Life
Helps me live that minimalist life: I am a planet activist. That’s my job, that’s my life. I do my very best (though I am far from perfect) to do right by Mother Earth. One of the ways I do this is by being as low waste as possible, and abiding by the principles of minimalism. Accumulating cupboards full of cheap toys is NOT part of this plan. Happy Baton allows me to offer my child educational, high quality toys without having to end up with piles of unused and unwanted items. And it does the same for everyone else using the service, meaning less new toys in existence, less waste (we waste so many toys), less plastic (Happy Baton prioritizes wooden toys), so fewer carbon emissions and fewer fossil fuels.
2) It Offers Kids Screen-Free Toy Variety
Kids get bored easily. Have a child? Then this will make perfect sense to you. We adults get bored fast, and kids have even shorter “enjoy” spans. Half the time my bubs prefers the cardboard box his toy comes in to the toy itself. So, a service that sends new toys to try out and play with every month provides the variety that little ones need, keeping things exciting and fun and different. This is also key for their development- growing tykes need to be exposed to a range of different types of objects and stimulated in different ways. Happy Baton offers this is spades, plus: NO screens. We all need this.
3) It’s Way Easier And More Convenient That Sourcing Second Hand Toys
Secondhand toys are great and all, and beyond loving grandparents who love to spoil the apple of their eye, all of my child’s toys are second hand. But, sourcing second hand toys (second hand anything, really) takes time. You have to check up all marketplaces, wait for toys that meet your criteria, arrange delivery, etc… Happy Baton is basically like an organised, efficient version of buying second hand toys. They take care of cleaning the items, they ensure my kid is getting toys that are right for his age and and they save Mummy and Daddy a LOT of time.
4) You Can Try Out What Your LO Likes
Ever got your kid a toy and thought he was going to love it, only to watch it languish in a box for months on end gathering dust. I love that with Happy Baton I get to take the toys on a test run. My bubs gives them a go and if I see that he really loves it, I can choose to invest in the toy for good. But at least I get to see what he likes and what he doesn’t, and frankly, that’s gold in my book.
5) It’s Excellent Value For Money
The toys are really high quality- think brands like Hape, PlanToys, Janod and EverEarth) and yet the service is very affordable (HK$ 500 monthly for 4 toys, including delivery and pickup – sign up for longer and it goes down to HK$ 400). Most of the toys you get would cost that much to buy outright so I think it’s a fair price and overall you are saving $$ by not buying so many toys all the time. Also, you probably would have a hard time finding all these toys yourself (many are not easily available in Hong Kong), never mind finding them all second hand. Happy Baton works with specialists such as speech pathologists, ABA therapists and arts educators to help them with their toy selection which includes specialty-designed items from Montessori and Waldorf educational approach, for example.
6) You’re Participating In The Circular Economy
If we are going to change the course of humanity and attempt to mitigate the effects of climate change, we need to fundamentally change the way we live. And that means going from a linear mindset to a circular one, and embracing new ways of consuming like the rental economy. We don’t need to own so much stuff. We can rent and share and extend the lifespan of things like toys. Happy Baton is the way for parents in Hong Kong to do this.
Bonus: 7) You’re Inspiring Your Kids To Live A Greener Life
As a parent, the best way to show your kids how to live a greener life is to lead by example. By exposing them to a toy rental subscription you are teaching them a range of eco values from the importance of reusing things, to the concept of a sharing economy to the intrinsic value of things.
All images courtesy of Happy Baton.