11 November 2012

Step Down Sunday - Eco-friendly Toys

Finally after a refreshing break we are ready to start planning our second Step Down Christmas. We've started by avidly searching for eco-friendly Christmas presents that can compete with the normal high street faire. While this is easy for babies and toddlers, it's become more difficult as our nieces and nephews get older. I was thrilled when I discovered Hape who produce environmentally friendly toys for children up to about six years old.
Hape is making a real effort to reduce their environmental impact. They've looked at how the products are made, how they are packaged, the waste they create and how their products are transported. While they are still a major world manufacturer, the holistic analysis suggests a real commitment to the environment.

The original range of toys, which includes the Mighty Mixer pictured above, focuses on wooden toys finished with water-based paints. What really caught my attention was the fact Hape are producing role-play toys in wood. When trying to find a present for my five year old niece, we felt confident that this would be comparable to the other plastic toys on offer.

However Hape are still taking things a step farther with their new range of eco-friendly bamboo toys. I'm really impressed by the clever designs, which embrace bamboo's natural properties. Often when we see bamboo it's been sliced and glued into planks, which leaves me wondering how much energy and chemicals goes into the process. Hape however are using the natural bamboo tube to form several of their toys.
The body of the Hape e-offroader is a single tube, while the front and back fenders are formed by tube segments. There are some plastic parts, but these have been designed to last - so the toys may be passed down to future generations. Toys that look fresh modern and fun, I'm sure my three year-old nephew will love this chunky toy car.

Stormy Seas we've actually bought for my nephew's birthday. (I wish I could show you a better picture, but I don't think my nephew will appreciate me opening his present early!) Made from bamboo, this is a balance game where you have to add cargo to the ship without it tipping and spilling. Though we've bought it for him, we're hoping it's something that will also interest his older sister.

Really that's the thing that make Hape Toys special, their ability to appeal despite their ethical limitations. So often we see eco-friendly products that look rough, tired and boring - there's no way we'll convince people to reduce their carbon-footprint if the products we are offering don't inspire them. I think Hape should be commended for giving eco-friendly toys a mass-market appeal.

Step Down Sunday
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