Meet the Founder

Toddler playing with wooden puzzle

When I had my first baby, I ended up with a whole lot of plastic baby toys. One morning when my son was a few months old, I was filling a plastic spice jar with dried beans to make a little rattle. I glanced at the recycling code on the bottom just to make sure it was one of the safer types of plastic, and saw that it wasn't. I checked our plastic toys and noticed they didn't even have these codes, meaning there was no way to know which plastics they were made of.

Toy Exchange Club Founder, Carissa BourrieAfter doing some research, I discovered that many baby toys were made of multiple types of plastic and could contain chemicals unsafe for my son's mouth. This also meant that the toys were not recyclable and would end up in the landfill. I immediately got rid of the plastic toys and began educating myself extensively on safer, more eco-friendly alternatives. I discovered a whole world of educational wooden toys that would support my baby's development, but could only find a few wooden toy options in Canada and they were very expensive.

With a background in environmental sustainability and a personal drive to help curb over-consumption, I recognized an opportunity to increase access to quality wooden toys in Canada without parents having to invest in tons of toys their child would outgrow in a few months. I recruited advisors with expertise in early childhood development, social enterprise development, and sharing economy business models, and created Toy Exchange Club. 

Join the Club!

Toy Exchange Club is reducing the need for toy ownership.

We ensure children have access to the right toys at the right time to support their development. Once they outgrow the rental toys, they can be used by another family. This sharing economy approach reduces waste in these key areas:

  • Materials and resources used to manufacture new wooden toys
  • Packaging materials 
  • Carbon emissions (by keeping shipping local)
  • Non-recyclable plastic toys

    We also try to:

    • Source educational toys made of natural materials and non-toxic paints
    • Use waste-free packaging, including locally-made upcycled cloth bags
    • Re-purpose returned shipping boxes and Kraft paper through local businesses
    • Use Canadian and American-made eco-friendly cleaning products on our wooden toys

    We believe that childhood play should have a positive impact on both our children’s future and the planet’s.

    Explore Our Rental Toys!

    What our Advisors say:

    Dr. Stephanie Denison, PhD (UC Berkeley, 2012) is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Waterloo, and a Toy Exchange Club Advisory Board Member

    Toy Exchange Club Advisor, Stephanie Denison"As a psychologist specializing in cognitive development in early childhood, I see a great deal of value in this program. The first three years of life represent the fastest pace of growth and change in the human mind and brain. The toys for each age range are carefully selected to be developmentally appropriate for those ages, which is a great way to encourage learning through play and to minimize frustration during playful interactions. During the first three years, children are making some of the most important discoveries about how physical objects work and how to engage in social interactions, and the literature shows that much of this can and should be learned through play. One of the most common concerns voiced by parents coming through my lab with their children is stress surrounding what toys to have and how to play with very young children. My best advice for this challenge is to just play together with simple toys that are eye-catching and easily handled and manipulated by their child at their current age. I really think the Toy Exchange Club sets parents up to do this well while also freeing up the mental and physical energy, that would otherwise be spent acquiring and organizing toys, to instead just play."   


    Haley Higdon, MA in Child Study and Education (University of Toronto, 2007), is Program Director for Natural Curiosity at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study Laboratory School, OISE, University of Toronto, and a Toy Exchange Club Advisory Board Member

    Toy Exchange Club Advisor, Haley Higdon"As an educator, I see great value in Toy Exchange Club. The educational toys, made of natural materials, are inviting and aesthetically pleasing, helping to awaken the curiosity of children and encourage independent play. The natural materials help to make a connection with the natural environment. I have noticed that many classrooms and homes have large amounts of toys and clutter, creating an over-stimulating sensory overload. Toy Exchange Club’s toys are simple in design, and allow children to investigate, imagine, think, create, solve problems, and make meaning from their experiences. 

    As an environmentalist, I am delighted that this company supports a circular economy by reusing and sharing toys with multiple families and helping to reduce waste. No new packaging or low-quality plastic toys that quickly break and end up in the landfill! Finally, as a new mom, I appreciate knowing that each educational toy has been strategically chosen to support the developmental needs of my child."

    Take a look at our toy subscription options here.