Greener pastimes: ToyNews’ guide to the latest in sustainable toys

With greater consumer awareness surrounding the topic translating to fresh demand at retail, coupled with a retail landscape more conscious of the social and environmental impact of the products it lines its shelves with than ever before, the market for sustainable toys is an ever-increasing one – both in size and importance.

Playing key roles in the development of children from their youngest ages, helping to shape their sensibilities and awareness of the world around them, the toy sector is one of the most important spaces through which the message of sustainability can be carried. And it so happens, that it’s also sector filled with innovators keen on providing the greener alternatives now for a more sustainable tomorrow.

Goliath Vivid – Crayola

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Crayola may make virtually every colour under the sun but its current favourite is green. Crayola has been celebrating the 10th Anniversary of its 20-acre solar farm in the USA, which includes more than 33,000 panels and produces enough energy to make 3 billion crayons and 700 million markers annually. By using renewable energy, reducing waste and protecting the rainforests, Crayola’s green initiative is helping to ensure that today’s kids will have a healthy environment for their creative tomorrows.

But this isn’t a recent goal by Crayola. The legacy of sustainability began when the company harnessed the power of the Bushkill Creek to generate electricity to manufacture slate pencils and chalk in the early 1900s and throughout its 117-year-old heritage, Crayola continued its environmental sustainability efforts by re-using excess wax created during the crayon moulding process, manufacturing coloured pencils with wood from well-managed forests and utilizing solar energy to power its facilities.

The company is excited to announce that it has now reached its goal of 100 per cent renewable energy. Over the past decade Crayola has manufactured more than 10 billion crayons and 7 billion markers all by the power of the sun, and now kids all around the world can say their Crayola crayons and markers are now made with 100 per cent sun harnessed renewable energy.

Not only that, but in a continued commitment to the environment, Crayola Coloured Pencils are produced with wood from well-managed forests to help preserve resources for the future so that kids can use Crayola pencils knowing that they are sourced responsibly and rainforests are being protected.

Crayola is committed to responsibly making its products and to spread this message in the UK from spring 2021, packs of Crayola coloured pencils and crayons will now feature key messages about Crayola’s sustainability effort, along with promotion across digital media.

Build Your Own 

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Build Your Own is the creator of an award-winning range of eco-friendly, STEM-inspired children’s toys that kids can build themselves. The company’s innovative kits encourage children to immerse themselves in the fun world of science and exploration, helping to reduce screen-time and bring families together. 

Made from high-quality, sustainable materials, Build Your Own uses minimal plastics in both its kits and packaging. The team of paper engineers has been working in paper and board for many years, and is incredibly passionate about creating cardboard toys that can be built as part of a family experience.

Launched at Toy Fair London 2020, Build Your Own went on to win multiple industry awards in its first year (2020 Independent Toy Awards) – reflective of both its eco and STEM credentials. The team has also featured on Channel 5’s The Gadget Show, gained extensive national press coverage, and successfully grown its distribution.

There are four kits in Build Your Own’s current range: Telescope, Paper Plane Launcher, Microscope and Marble Run. Each with a unique function and its own fun build challenges to encourage children to learn through play. 

Build Your Own also has new products launching early summer and throughout 2021, including an exciting new Mini-Build format. All launches will continue to be supported with marketing campaigns including digital, PR and social media activity plus much more.

Timberkits – Plastic-free packaging and toy kits

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Timberkits are wooden mechanical models sold in kit form. They span a broad variety of themes, ability and age ranges. Timberkits are a construction challenge and demonstrate basic mechanical principals in a fun and creative way.

With anything between 60 and 300 components each, the kits must be arranged in a very orderly fashion. The photographic instructions take the builder through each stage using numbered parts identifiable from a diagram of the tray in the box. The easiest way to pack these has been to use plastic trays moulded to the parts and covered with plastic lids to ensure everything reaches the customer in good order.

Timberkits has been designing new card trays to replace the plastic in order to provide a truly sustainable product. It has been quite a challenge due to the complexity of some of the kits but one that must be met in the face of compelling scientific evidence about the environmental impact of plastic pollution.

The Timberkits team is immensely proud that its pioneering efforts have enabled the range to be well underway on a plastic-free journey and it is delighted to be able to offer truly sustainable products made from natural materials. 

JUNKO – Make junk into working toys |

Year on year, JUNKO has doubled its growth across the UK market as consumers and retailers alike begin to throw their weight and money behind the sustainable toys movement and make more considered purchases, that all starts with a want to reduce plastic waste.

We know STEM learning and eco-consciousness are growing in importance among parents and grandparents concerned about the effect of excess screen time on children currently out of school, while there’s little doubt that lockdown has fueled the STEM toy trend, as parents look to keep kids engaged.

We invented JUNKO to help kids (and grown-ups!) upcycle their home’s recycling into toys. We care about the planet, so our eco-friendly ethos the kits are made in the UK and EU from recycled plastic. More companies could and should be doing this, and we have intentionally avoided bioplastics as we believe the land used for growing the crops used for bioplastics could be better used for food or reforestation to help fight climate change.

Of course, we also make sure JUNKO is packaged without the use of plastic, it is just held in 100 per cent recyclable card tubes.

Mattel – Fisher-Price

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With Mattel’s goal to achieve 100 per cent recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials in all products and packaging by 2030, the company took steps to achieve this in 2020 with the introduction of an environmentally sustainable version of the iconic Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack.

The Classic stacking toy with five colourful rings and a bat-at rocker base is made with plant-based materials (made from minimum of 90 per cent ethanol extracted from sugar cane) and comes in FSC certified packaging. The beloved Rock-a-Stack toy, which was launched by Fisher-Price in 1960 to introduce babies to relative size and stacking, is made from a sugarcane-based polyethylene, a renewable raw material.

By streamlining the toy’s materials, it can also be fully recycled, which eliminates waste and more easily enable the material to be recovered and repurposed at the end of the toy’s life.

The introduction of Fisher-Price sustainable products is just part of Mattel’s goal and expands the Company’s Environmentally Sustainable Sourcing Principles that were announced in 2011. The Company now sources 93 per cent of the paper and wood fiber used in its packaging and products from recycled or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) content, surpassing its 2018 goal of 90 per cent. 

Mattel will be introducing more sustainable products throughout 2021.

Zapf Creation

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Zapf Creation – the name behind the hit doll brands Baby Annabell and Baby Born – is waving goodbye to the traditional transparent plastic window boxes in an overhaul of its product packaging and response to the growing demand for plastic-free packaging in the toy market.

In its commitment to provide better sustainable options, Zapf Creation is looking to lead the way in the doll sector to provide packaging made entirely from plastic-free materials.

The dolls specialist will now usher in new closed box designs that clearly show the dolls, improving visibility of the products and increasing the brand presence on shelves. Within the boxes, cable ties and plastic bags will be swapped for paper packaging alternatives to ensure products are still secure throughout transport.

Zapf Creation believes that in removing the plastic packaging, the unboxing experience is also improved for children (and parents), making it easier and more exciting to open their new purchases. Similarly, it means that any returns are also easier, with products simply replaced into boxes.

Initially rolling out across 2021 with all new product, this new standard in doll and accessory packaging will then move into the entire Zapf Creation portfolio, with the ultimate aim of having the entire range plastic free by Autumn 2022.


The Dutch brand, BioBuddi has successfully patented a new range of ‘green’ toys that, it says, will propel the firm across the international markets as it promotes carbon neutral manufacturing and bio-based materials.

BioBuddi had previously introduced bio-based toy blocks to the market, however, it has now developed a new patented material in collaboration with the Wageningen University in The Netherlands that will now form the basis of all of its toy production.

The toy brand is launching this month with a toy plate to be used as a starting point when building with its construction blocks. The range will be expanded upon later this year with other toy concepts, puzzles, and more.

Through the launch, international growth for BioBuddi is now on the cards, with plans to roll the product out to 50 countries worldwide this year. It is also expecting to see a 50 per cent increase in turnover across its entire range this year.

VTech and LeapFrog | 03306780149

VTech has detailed its plans to launch a variety of green electronic learning products for 2021, marking an important step in the pre-school and electronics toy specialist’s commitment to sustainability. The firm aims to replace its fossil-based plastics with sustainable alternatives by 2030.

VTech’s eco-friendly products include three new vehicles in the popular GO! Go! Smart Wheels line made from plant-based plastic, and the Sort & Recycle Ride-On Truck made from reclaimed plastic.

In the LeapFrog portfolio, in addition to a new Choppin’ Fun Learning Pot with vegetables and accessories made from plant-based plastic, VTech will source materials from responsibly sourced managed forests certified by Forest Stewardship Council for two new wooden toys, Touch & Learn Nature ABC Board and Interactive Wooden Animal Puzzle.

VTech has already got the introduction of sustainable product packaging underway, and currently 94 per cent of its packaging materials is recyclable, while 90 per cent of the cardboard used in the packaging is recycled materials.

About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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