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Margo Butautaite

“Loved Before” Company Gives Old Soft Toys A Second Chance

Ever since their invention, stuffed animals have been the best friends of children and adults all over the world. They offer comfort when the nights get dark and scary, help create imaginary worlds and take a big place in the heart of their owners. Sadly, many of them lay forgotten in dusty attics or worse, end up in a landfill. Charlotte Liebling noticed that many of these beautiful toys could bring joy to new owners with a little love and TLC and founded Loved Before Toy Adoption Agency, saving thousands of unwanted plushies.

More info: TikTok

Charlotte was working at a charity shop when she learned that many of the stuffed toys end up in a landfill

Image credits: lovedbefore_london

When Charlotte was 20 years old, she was working at a charity shop in London. There she was astounded by the number of soft toys donated, especially when she herself couldn’t think of parting with her vast collection. Many of the people were sad to part with their loyal friends but due to changed circumstances, they couldn’t keep them anymore and hoped that the charity shop would offer them a second chance.

Sadly, the seasoned staff discarded many of the plushies and those deemed “fit to sell” were sold for pennies. For Charlotte, it was too heartbreaking to know that old toys that listened to countless secrets and guarded dreams of the widest oceans were now being sold as dog toys. The more tired ones ended up in a recycling bin.

Shocked by what she learned, Charlotte went home and conducted her own research – do all toys share a similar fate? The results were upsetting – most of them did end up in landfills, while a few lucky ones found their way into textile recycling bins.

Image credits: lovedbefore_london

Their previous owners would bring them to the charity shops, hoping they would find a good home. Sadly, most of them were not deemed fit for sale

Image credits: lovedbefore_london

That’s when Charlotte decided it was time to act – after all, we have to be the change we want to see. She wasted no time, and in a few weeks, her walls were covered with various sketches and Post-its full of ideas. The kindhearted woman was looking to remind people that old things aren’t bad things; that with age they gain more value, made even more special by all the love they received before.

That’s how “Loved Before” was born. When the time comes to say goodbye to a soft toy, be it due to moving or simply outgrowing it, the owners are encouraged to write little cards telling about their personality, life story and any special quirks that the new owners should look out for. The plushies then get cleaned and sterilized and ready to look for a new loving family. “Loved Before” doesn’t fix the toys, they remain scruffy or without parts – they believe it adds to their unique stories and the long life they lived.

The cards that come with the toys are what make the toys so special. It isn’t just a toy made from xyz materials anymore, it’s Herb the lion who comforted wobbly kids, teddy Tony who loves cuddles and Annabel the bird who is learning to embrace her unique beauty. Charlotte noted that it was very touching to see people weren’t at ease writing, unsure what to say. After all, it is not easy to put in simple words just how special their friend is.

Image credits: lovedbefore_london
Image credits: lovedbefore_london

Charlotte felt she had to do something, so she spent weeks researching ways to help plushies and their owners who were ready to say goodbye

Image credits: lovedbefore_london

Ms Liebling mentioned one particular instance of an elderly lady who came to surrender her scruffy teddy bears. They had been with her for her whole life, ever since she was a little girl. Sadly, she was at the twilight of her life and very unwell. She had no relatives she could pass her beloved teddies on to and after learning about Loved Before, she rushed to ask for help for her beloved plushies, hoping they would make someone as happy as she was having them.

Countless touching stories moved the young entrepreneur and she started booking stalls at local events, where she would introduce plushies to children and adults who were fascinated by their stories, eager to learn more and excited by the prospect of adoption. Anyone can grab a stuffed animal from the shelves of a supermarket, but can anyone have the bragging rights of saving Elio the giraffe that loves to sing?

Very soon, the teddies that were donated by that elderly lady found new owners. She was delighted when Charlotte sent her a picture of her beloved teddies being hugged by two ecstatic girls who promised to give them the best home. Those teddy bears will surely share so many secrets about the little girl they once belonged to, encouraging their new owners to be as brave and as compassionate as she is.

Image credits: lovedbefore_london

That’s how “Loved Before” was born: a unique toy adoption company where each toy has a special card telling about their life story

Image credits: lovedbefore_london
Image credits: lovedbefore_london

“We believe that there are already enough soft toys in the world that you do not have to produce another for a very long time, if not ever again”

Image credits: lovedbefore_london

Plushies are not just for kids – soft toys provide many benefits for both little ones and grown-ups

Image credits: lovedbefore_london

Now “Loved Before” has a large following on social media platforms. Since 2019, the organization has saved over 5000 toys – that’s 5000 more smiles in the world. Adopting a toy is definitely one of the most sustainable ways to get a new plushie friend.

“We believe that there are already enough soft toys in the world that you do not have to produce another for a very long time, if not ever again,” said Charlotte.

Not only is it a green way to shop, but every sale also contributes to the Make-A-Wish foundation. Karma points galore! And if you need a little more convincing on getting a soft toy, here are a few surprising benefits of having a plushie:

  • They help manage emotions – you can tell them all your secrets or talk about an annoying person at school at work and they will listen with no judgment;
  • They ease loneliness;
  • They reduce stress;
  • They take us back to our childhood, bringing comfort of the days gone by.

If you have decided to “adopt” a plushie, Loved Before has many of them waiting for that special person.

People in the comments loved the idea:

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