Sustainability is a hot topic, and rightly so -we only have the one planet.
Here at the Good Play Guide we want to support those companies who are taking their responsibility to the planet seriously and adopting their manufacturing practices to be more sustainable.
We have recently partnered with Products of Change and encourage all toy manufacturers to become members to gain access to their incredible expertise and resources to help in the process of becoming more sustainable.
Here are some things to consider when trying to make toys without damaging the environment or your bottom line.
Look into the source of the materials – organic cotton that’s travelled halfway around the world may be less eco friendly than a less natural product made locally.
Make sure that the manufacturing process isn’t a victim of greenwashing – bamboo is a fast-growing sustainable material but to pass toy safety requirements it needs coating in a material that makes it non-recyclable and less compostable. There have been cases of companies making new plastic bottles simply to recycle them to enable them to claim that a product has been made of recycled plastic.
Look into the play value of a product – use a cost-per play calculation. A product that is made of plastic but that can be washed, reused and played with by multiple children for generations will have a much lower impact on the planet than a single use product, almost regardless of what it’s made of.
Consider your returns and spare parts policy. Anything that prolongs the life of a products and delays or avoids it going into landfill is a good thing. There have been some successful ‘take-back’ schemes recently and whether your take back scheme leads to recycling or redistribution, if it reduces the demand for raw materials, it has got to be a good thing.
Avoid greenwashing – customers are getting wise to it and it can really damage your brand’s credibility.
Highlight what you are doing with spare parts and take back schemes, or make suggestions for upcycling damaged/broken toys. A barbie with no legs can make a great cake decoration!
Provide additional play or learning activities using the toy to extend its life of it and get more value from it (and maybe save a parent from having to go and buy something new). Not only will you keep your toy out and being played with (the best advert is word of mouth), you’ll also win over parents who are always on the look out for activities and ways to support their children’s learning through play.
Look for recognised certifications or accreditations to build trust in your brand and enable you to highlight your eco-credentials.
Publish your sustainability policy on your website – people gain confidence from knowing you’re being transparent about what you are and are not doing – and they don’t expect you to be perfect!
You’ll get credit for being honest about what you’re doing now and what you’re aiming to improve on.