How do I know this? See examples below of successful trailblazing toy manufacturers who have applied winning solutions, and who are exhibitors at the annual Spielwarenmesse.
This article highlights some success stories, showcasing companies that use renewable resources, focus on local production to reduce their carbon footprint, and for whom, promoting learning and education is leading the way for life-long commitments to behavioral change.
Using Renewable Resources
Many renewable materials are now being sourced with renewable crops and in sustainable forests. These include bamboo, wood-and-plant-blended plastics, maplewood, and rubberwood. Other materials include bio-based plastics, biodegradable and compostable materials, soy-based paints, and plant-based bio pet (recycled particles for interior stuffing for plush, and more).
Besides the trail-blazers in the industry, other younger industry players have made tremendous strides. They have researched, tested, and innovated new and renewable resources for bioplastics, plant-based materials, corn-starch-based rubber, rubber-bark (from Hevea Brasiliensis trees) and sugar-cane to name a few. They have experimented by testing different fibers and natural materials such as cork, flax fiber, wools and woven fibers, organic cotton fabric materials, nut-based and blended wood by-products, and more.
- Wooden playthings: In previous articles, I have highlighted the efforts by Begin Again (USA), Le Toy Van (UK), Luke’s Toy Factory (USA). Their quality heritage toy products are made from some of the newest sustainable crops and from reforested sustainable resources. They withstand years of play and counter the throwaway waste culture.
- Studiostone Creative Soapstone Carving Kits (Canada) are 100 percent eco, all natural and sustainable products. They are designed to inspire creativity and introduce kids (8+) and people of all ages to the art of natural soapstone carving. Kits include everything you need to create your own carving from start to finish, focusing on sculptures of wildlife, sea life and domestic animals. Winner of ASTRA Best Toys For Kids 2021 Award.
- PlanToys (Thailand) With over 40 years of crafting sustainable playthings, PlanToys continues to be one of the leading trail-blazing sustainable manufacturers in the industry. They practice certified Fair Trade standards. They build, maintain, and improve their factories and support uncompromising quality standards to maintain their reputation, and their commitments.
Focusing on Local for a Smaller Carbon Footprint
Some manufacturers have been focused on creating local manufacturing solutions. They use locally harvested materials or locally recycled materials to create playthings that are distributed locally to shorten the transit footprint, and to reduce the overall carbon footprint of their supply chain.
- The efforts of Green Toys (West Coast USA), Luke’s Toy Factory (East Coast USA), and Shore Buddies (USA) were described in an earlier article.By sourcing local recycled materials for local manufacture, they reduce their materials-to-manufacture carbon footprint.
- Adventerra Games (Switzerland) has expanded their original range of 4 high-quality educational eco-games for kids 8 and up, to a wider collection of games, puzzles and books, also for kids ages 2+. Their mission is to inspire behavior-changing habits with consumers, and especially for children to develop awareness towards nature and respect for the planet. Their new EcoLogic Memory: Eating in Season Game encourages kids, aged 2 and up, to match foods to seasons, to support their carbon footprint by selecting local seasonally-available food source choices. Using simple decision-making tools for preschoolers and more issue-driven and complex challenges for older kids, the Adventerra team has reported kids motivating their entire families or schools to make small individual changes that amount to significant group resource-saving results.
- Shore Buddies (USA) donates a percentage of plush sales (made from recycled plastic bottles) to local environmental-education-for-kids programs, for funding local beach clean-up efforts and to support Ocean-based charities.
Encouraging Learning and Education from cradle to grave for Life-Long Commitments to Behavioral Change
Some companies have this educational impact forged into their mission statements, and it is at the core of their existence. By designing toys, games and curriculum that support educational efforts for kids, they are engaging kids as a part of the solution. Many products are also linked to charitable donations, and these manufacturers truly practice what they teach:
- Bears for Humanity (USA) were the world's first 100% Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Certified Organic & Global Fair Trade Certified manufacturer of plush products. Their rPET polyester is certified to the Textile Exchange “Global Recycled Standard” (GRS), a voluntary international standard that sets requirements for EACH stage of production. Bears for Humanity mission is to manufacture safe and Eco-friendly organic products, protect our environment, create fair trade living wage jobs, and give back to causes for children, animals and environment. They have recently converted to a non-profit organization and are still dedicated to their original promise of: Buy a teddy bear, and they donate an equal quality teddy bear to a child in need. They have expanded beyond bears to a menagerie of animals, providing choice and collectability for dedicated fans worldwide.
- Educating Amy (Canada, crafted in India) is a newer manufacturer that has formulated sturdy, durable and heritage quality fabric books, paired with creative designs and play patterns that offer open-ended play for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. They promote mindfulness and minimalist options for children’s play development. Each of their Mini Quiet Books has engaging and fresh activities on each page, using, felt, fabric, ribbon, manipulatives and more. For each book purchased, a portion of the revenue is donated to provide education to a girl in India, for a month. They also manufacture in India, at a woman-owned factory, supporting a workforce of women, to continue to support both girls and women in India.
- Celestial Buddies (USA) developed planet-inspired plush, with educational stickers and theming, to teach kids about the solar system, and the importance of climate change. Celestial Buddies, with a message of protecting our planet, uses minimal packaging with a hangtag, for less waste. It illustrates how children can help, and visually shows the causes and effects of Global Warming.
These leading sustainable manufacturers are not resting on their laurels. They continue to challenge themselves, and their competitors to improve their methods, materials, processes, products and practices. How do your products and practices for Sustainability measure up? Let me know of your successes in the comments section.