Why did we set up a plastic free toy shop? By Stuart Loach, founder of Envirotoy.
In the summer of 2019 I was deciding the next path to take in life in terms of employment. After working for corporate companies for a number of years, I knew it was now or never in terms of setting up something on my own. At the time, I was cycling the length of Britain and had a long time to think of an idea! One thing was for sure, I wanted to try and do something that was going to make a difference!
I’d always loved the great outdoors and particularly the ocean. The amount of plastic in the ocean is becoming an issue that is the limelight more and more and an issue people are becoming more and more aware of. This is turn really makes them consider how much plastic is in their lives when they are making consumer decisions. The thing is, I couldn’t see this same thought process when an individual was deciding which toy or gift to buy a little one. Of course, some people where making these consumer decisions but it appeared to me to be on a lot smaller scale than other products. The norm for children’s toys was still plastic, plastic, plastic.. for the toy and for the packaging. In terms of the packaging, cable ties and see through windows were the norm everywhere.
That was when the idea came to me – a plastic free toy shop. Many claimed to be ‘eco-friendly’ but from my initial research I was very surprised by the amount of ‘wooden’ toys that have plastic components. My idea was clean cut. ZERO PLASTIC.
Plastic was seen as a wonder material for manufacturers when it came on the market many moons ago – an un labour intensive way to create any shape and colour easily. This unfortunately came at a huge environmental cost. Current statistics state that 90% of the toys manufactured and sold in the world are made using Plastic. In other words, millions and millions of tons. Do you know the worst thing about this? Due to their nature, toys are widely unrecyclable which means that these millions and millions of tons of toys will largely end up in Landfill with a small percentage being littered or incinerated. This means that these toys will still be on the surface of our planets in 100s of years time! Worse still, in developing countries where the management of properly disposed of waste is poor, the plastic waste will ‘leak’ into the environment and if they are within 50km of the coast, there is a hugely increased chance that this waste will end up in the sea.
A beautifully made wooden toy can last for a long time and be handed down the generations but when it does find it’s way to the waste system it will not take many lifetimes to bio-degrade, after all wood is a natural material.
So that’s the reason I decided to start a plastic free toy shop!
Please visit https://www.envirotoy.co.uk/ to find out more. 1% of our sales is donated to plastic ocean clean up projects. For readers of kids against plastic blog we have a special discount code which will get you 10% off KIDSPLASTIC10. (Valid until Nov 1st 2020).
Envirotoy’s solution to plastic free toys
How we made a plastic free toy shop.
I can tell you, to avoid using plastic in your business in this day and age is a very difficult task and a plastic free toy shop even more so. Plastic is everywhere and no more so than the toy industry. 90% of children’s toys are made using plastic.
I guarantee that if you go to the shops today and buy a wooden toy, there will be a plastic component in the toy and most definitely in the packaging – even it is something as small as a cable tie. Think of a wooden kitchen for example or a wooden dolls house. The kitchen will have a plastic sink and the dolls house will have plastic door frames or similar.
Our task was simple – to scour around for toys without plastic, whilst at the same time making sure our range ticked all the boxes and we had a great selection. It was also important for us to be aware of the provenance of the wood – so all the brands we sell use responsibly sourced wood, often from trees that produce rubber. It’s all very well only selling wooden products but if the wood is not from a sustainable source this is just as bad for the planet but in different ways!
In this process we’ve had to make sacrifices, there are some beautiful, responsibly made wooden toys out there but if they contain plastic, even if it is only 1%, we won’t move from our objective and we won’t sell them. By far our biggest issue.. the ubiquitous see through plastic window! Our hope is that as we grow and our buying power becomes greater, toy companies will change components and packaging so they can offer us a larger range.
Hopefully this has gone some way to explaining how you go about putting a together a plastic free toy shop! Sounds simple but in today’s commercial world being able to compete and gain attention whilst having strict purchasing criteria is easier said than done.