Day 2 – Feature Article
Read Day 2's Feature Article below.
Also read the other days' Feature Articles:
Day 1's Feature Article: Arts & Crafts Paint a Promising Picture
Day 3's Feature Article: Games Come Home to the Family
Day 4's Feature Article: Science Kits and More Keep Kids Learning
Green Expansions Call for Eco-Creativity
Blocks, Crafts and Plush Gain Environmental Ground
The road to producing a green toy is loaded with challenges, but those that succeed say it's well worth the effort.
Once one decides to create a sustainable product, that philosophy filters into every aspect of the business, making things a lot harder than if you just wanted the cheapest materials, said Forrest Espinoza, co-owner of new Toy Fair exhibitor Artterro, which produces eco-friendly art projects with minimum packaging.
THINKING “ECO” AT EVERY TURN
“It's been quite a challenge in the U.S.,” she told TDmonthly Magazine, particularly when seeking raw materials for the products. A lot of larger companies passed over them because they were small. Others didn't understand that they were trying to cut down on packaging.
“It's not about the price. It's about the product,” she said, acknowledging that while there are many different shades of “green” when it comes to a product being labeled eco-friendly, there are some companies, like hers, that think about the environmental impact of every decision they make — from packaging to shipping.
Leah Hamilton, founder of Belly Productions and creator of Be Blocks, agreed it takes effort to show a company cares about the environment. She feels heartened by eco-friendly toy stores like Green Genes, which is near her in Chicago.
The 100-percent bamboo blocks can be decorated by kids. The stencils are made from partially recycled polyester, and all the paper and packaging is partially or completely recycled.
Bob Becker, vice president of marketing and sales for Pharmtec, said he's even concerned about the fossil fuels burned in the production of the paper used in his products.
Pharmtec makes collapsible cardboard play houses, a cottage and a castle. To answer demands, the company has introduced smaller models.
“My children have studied recycling since second grade,” Becker told TDmonthly. Since the houses are cardboard, the toys themselves can be recycled.
“Everybody's jumped on the ‘we're green’ marketing,” he said.
MORE MARKETS GO GREEN
Even more mass merchants are dealing with green toys as a reflex from consumers, said Doug Robertson, creator of the Bear Buckets Club, a first-time exhibitor at Toy Fair.
“Wal-Mart and Target are going more toward green. They think in the long run it will save money for them. At the same time, it's the popular thing to do right now,” he said, meaning there will be more of a fight for shelf space.
The packaging for the company’s plush bears is reusable, as storage for toys or crayons, for example. The only thing that gets thrown out is shrinkwrap on the outside of the bucket.
“Most waste comes from packaging. However, it is the packaging that catches the consumer's eye when they’re walking through the aisles,” Robertson said.
Rob Wilson, vice president of Challenge and Fun, agreed that the green market is definitely growing, but that doesn't make things easier. His company is introducing greeting cards from its I Cherish Planet Earth game and working with Restoration Gallery's Global Green Pals, organic character dolls with names like Carbon Offset Chet.
Although current government regulations and safety certification costs make it “extremely frustrating for small companies,” Wilson told TDmonthly, that doesn’t taint the whole picture.
“I think there's certainly a demand for the products. More and more companies are adding green elements. It's an exciting time.”
See these and other "green" products below:
Wool Felt Jewelry Kit by ARTTERROFun to work with and easy to use, colorful wool felt makes unique jewelry. With simple tips and lots of examples for inspiration, design a fashionable bracelet, necklaces, pin, barrette and 2 pairs of earrings, all with this one great kit! Two bonus projects in every kit! Turn the box into a mailbox, birdhouse or special treasure box. The inner tray is perfect for framing your art. Ages 8 and up. 2/9/2010 (Price: $22.00; Age: 8 and Up) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
Be Blocks by BELLY PRODUCTIONS
These blocks were created for parents as concerned as their child's development as the environment they will inherit. They are made from 100-percent renewable bamboo, as is the storage box. They can be decorated by kids using non-toxic Be Block markers. The stencils are made from partially recycled polyester. All the paper and packaging is partially or completely recycled. The set comes with 18 blocks, eight markers, more than 100 stencils and an idea booklet. They're perfect for “people who want to design everything,” Founder Leah Hamilton told TDmonthly. A percentage of the proceeds funds arts education. Watch Be Blocks: Top-5 Video, Toy Fair 2010.
2/9/2010 (Price: $50; Age: 3 and Up) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
I Cherish Planet Earth Greeting Cards by CHALLENGE & FUN INC.These environmentally friendly greeting cards feature art from the award-winning game I Cherish Planet Earth. They are printed in the USA on recycled paper using vegetable inks. Each card comes with a “Geolope,” an envelope made from recycled surplus maps. The $2 pack contains eight cards. 2/9/2010 (Price: $5.95; Age: 5 and Up) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
Go Green Bear by VERMONT TEDDY BEARThese bears come from the Green Mountains of Vermont, but their cuddly soft fur and paw pads are made from 100-percent recycled post-consumer plastic bottles — the same fabric that goes into making some of the world's softest fleece and other cozy fabrics. They're made with 100-percent recycled stuffing. And just like all Vermont Teddy Bears, Go Green Bears feature "Born in Vermont" eyes and a "tush tag" confirming an unconditional lifetime guarantee. Launch date: November 15, 2009. 11/5/2009 (Price: $59.95; Age: All Ages) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
Hip Socks by BABEROOEach pack has four pairs of socks with an elastic band around the ankle to make sure they stay on. Made with certified organic cotton that was harvested without pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers, these socks are manufactured using environmentally friendly processes and use Oeko-Tex Standard 100 dyes, which meet health and ecological standards in the U.S. and EU, according to Baberoo. 2/9/2010 (Price: $15.00; Age: 0 to 1) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
Stacker by GREEN TOYS INC.Suitable for ages 6 months and up, this eco-friendly version of a classic is made in the USA from 100-percent recycled milk containers. The packaging uses only recycled and recyclable materials and is printed with soy inks. 2/9/2010 (Price: $13.99; Age: 1 and Up) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
Wall Coaster by ACTIVE PRODUCTS INC.The Wall Coaster is NOT an ordinary marble run. Kids can just stick it to the wall and let their imaginations soar. The Wall Coaster uses the basic laws of physics and gravity to enable hours of fun and imaginative play. Plus, it is super easy to use. What makes the Wall Coaster different? The Wall Coaster can be applied to almost any vertical or horizontal surface. The new add on parts allow the user to build all kinds of crazy contraptions.
— Dean Smith, owner of JaZams in Princeton, N.J. told TDmonthly in late Spring 2011 that he sells between eight and 10 Wall Coasters each month.
— Want this? As of 05/10/2011, this product was available for purchase at JaZams 2/9/2010 (Price: $19.95; Age: 5 and Up) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
Paper Recycling Mini-Factory by EASTCOLIGHT LTDThis kit introduces the concept of recycling while encouraging creativity. It comes with a manual blender, plastic tray, paper presser, mesh, decorations, cleaning cloths and tips on how to create projects. 2/9/2010 (Age: 8 and Up) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
Tinti by CHALLENGE & FUN INC.Children can change the bathwater to vibrant colors using these all-natural dye packs that won't stain the tub. They are preservative and chemical free. Each pack contains two blue and one red. 2/9/2010 (Price: $2.95; Age: 3 and Up) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
Bear Buckets Club by AMSFRONTLINE INC.Each of these plush characters comes with an interactive/educational CD enclosed in its home, which doubles as a reusable container. "Our products have several characteristics that set us apart. For one, our packaging is actually a container that can be used over and over again and has a four-way lip lock system to store small toys as well as other items," Douglas Robertson, President, AMSFrontline.com, told TDmonthly. Launch date: 2010. 2/4/2010 (Price: $12.99; Age: 4 to 11) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
Bubble Thing! by BUBBLE THINGBlow The World’s Biggest Bubbles! This is the famous Bubble Thing that started the giant bubble sport. It blows gorgeous high-flying rainbow-colored bubbles the size of baby whales. Easy! A thrill for all ages. Great for outdoor parties. Graceful operation without compare. Keep dipping and opening and closing the flexible fabric loop to create a fantastic menagerie of bubble shapes and sizes. Package includes BIG Bubble Mix powder that makes 2.7 gallons of world class bubble solution. Just add water and dish soap. 1/23/2009 (Price: $11.95; Age: 6 to 96) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
My Very Own Castle™ playhouse by PHARMTEC CORP.Medieval play has never been more fun. Children can play as prince or princess, queen or king, and even pirate with their own huge castle. My Very Own Castle™ is a single-piece, cardboard castle that is pre-assembled and can quickly expanded for play and folded up for storage when not in use. The castle features a bright white interior and exterior for coloring fun, as well as doors and windows. Fully expanded, the playhouse measures 44" long, 28" wide, and 28.5" tall. 10/26/2009 (Age: 3 and Up) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
BPA-Free Feeding Bowl Set by GREEN TOYS INC.Suitable for ages 6 months and up, these bowls are free of PVC, phthalates, BPA and external coatings. They are dishwasher-safe, and are made from recycled plastic milk containers, packaged with recycled and recyclable materials, and printed with soy inks. “Our customers tell us they love Green Toys products because they know where the toys are made and exactly what they are made from,” Robert von Goeben, president and co-founder of Green Toys Inc., told TDmonthly. 2/9/2010 (Price: $6.99; Age: 1 and Up) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
Global Green Pals™ - Recycle Kyle™ by RESTORATION GALLERY LLCRecycle Kyle™ likes to get people motivated about recycling because it is fun, easy, and something everyone can do. From Seattle, he loves to ride his skateboard, a pollution-free form of transportation. Kyle's dedication to recycling began one day while cruising through a park. He hit a soda can and fell down and hurt himself. Since then he has been spreading the word about recycling. He even started a recycling program at school. Kids can join Kyle and the other Global Green Pals on their mission. "The Global Green Pals are a unique group of dolls that highlight important environmental issues and encourage children to learn through play. They have the capability of inspiring children of all origins to take action by changing small things in their daily activities," Malini Goel, founder and president of Restoration Gallery LLC, told TDmonthly. Launch date: February 15, 2009. 3/12/2009 (Price: $29.99; Age: 3 and Up) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
My Very Own House™ playhouse by PHARMTEC CORP.My Very Own House™ is a single-piece, cardboard playhouse that is pre-assembled and can quickly expanded for play and folded up for storage when not in use. The playhouse features a bright white interior and exterior for coloring fun, as well as 2 doors, 4 windows, and 2 mail slots. Fully expanded, the playhouse measures 43.5" long, 28" wide, and 35" tall. 10/26/2009 (Price: $34.95; Age: 3 and Up) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
CALAFANT Dollhouse by CREATIVE TOYSHOPThis CALAFANT Dollhouse comes complete with balcony and two big rooms on the backside. All doors open. Made from recycled material and is 100% biodegradable. Decorate inside and outside, create wallpaper and pictures. Ideal in size for play with 3" dolls and animals. Assembled product is approx. 15" x 7" x 16" 6/5/2009 (Price: $24.99; Age: 3 to 10) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
Precycle by FOOT CYCLES INC.The Precycle is a "green" and artfully crafted wood balance bikes for ages 2 to 5. It features a curved saddle, raise handlebars and wheels inspired by the Lamborghini. A tree is planted by Global Releaf for every bike manufactured by Foot Cycles. Launch date: November 27, 2009. 11/17/2009 (Price: $155; Age: 2 to 5) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]
BPA-Free Feeding Plate Set by GREEN TOYS INC.Made entirely from recycled milk containers, these sturdy plates are free of phthalates, PVC, BPA and external coatings. They are dishwasher safe. The packaging is made with recycled and recyclable materials. There are four plates to a pack. 2/9/2010 (Price: $6.99; Age: 1 and Up) [Add to my Inquiry Basket][?]