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The Rigiocattolo: Play, Recycle, Play Again

"Once upon a time there was a candle…" These words are written on a poster covered with pictures of Gypsy children having fun working together melting some wax. "Once upon a time there was a toy ... then it was abandoned and now is a rigiocattolo (recycled toy)."

The "Rigiocattolo" is the name of the initiative, a used-toy sale, that the Country of the Rainbow organizes in December in Rome and in many other Italian and foreign cities. 

In the two months preceding Christmas collections of used toys are made in schools and neighborhoods. The movement's children and adolescents bring in their own toys and involve their classmates so that they, too, bring in the toys that they do not use anymore. 

Toys should be recycled because the plastic materials they are made of are generally polluting. So it necessary to make toys live as long as possible because when they get thrown in the garbage, they end up in an incinerator or garbage dump and they pollute the environment.


 The Country of the Rainbow Movement's children and adolescents have organized the Rigiocattolo two years in a row. They have promoted the initiative among their peers and their enthusiasm has got thousands of people involved and has collected more than seven thousand toys.

"We talked about the "Rigiocattolo" with our classmates, with our teachers, and friends, we handed out flyers everywhere. Then we fixed the toys, we cleaned them, and we restored almost six thousand toys that would be otherwise be thrown in the dump." - the children explain to people who stop at the stands and ask what the event is all about while they shop. 

The principle is very simple: Not everything that is no longer used should be thrown away. A simple touch is enough and an old toy or a piece of a candle can be recycled. 

Everybody can do something in the "Rigiocattolo". Even the Gypsy children who do not have toys sell the candles made with recycled wax and other objects and toys they make. 

There is also a try-out room where the little kids can freely experiment the toys.


 The squares are transformed into villages of the Country of the Rainbow. The children hand out invitations in the surrounding streets and ask people to buy a rigiocattolo and explain what the initiative means. The square is filled up with stands and the children and adolescents are busy selling toys, giving advice, and explaining. Then every customer is accompanied to the cashier and the wrapping table, where they use recycled paper, obviously. Many people pass by and buy Christmas gifts. The songs and music of the "Country of the Rainbow Band", made up entirely by children and adolescents, attract a lot of people. 

Last year we sold more than six thousand toys. The one thousand rigiocattolo that were unsold were sent to the pediatric hospital in Tirana, Albania, and to Kosovar refugees. 

The initiative is repeated every year not only in Rome but also in many Italian and European cities, and it represents an opportunity for everybody to recycle toys. To this end the collection even foresees a use for unusable toys (because they are completely destroyed) and sends them to factory that use plastic to make shopping bags and synthetic fabric.


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