In an industry that is increasingly becoming inundated with plastic collectables, it's easy to see why many environmentalists are becoming concerned with the sheer amount of plastic waste being produced in the UK alone.
Now, as the conversation ramps up with talks at the top of government decrying the amount of pollution being caused, it only seems a matter of time before sanctions are introduced to curb the problem.
One firm that is consciously taking action in this department is Bigjigs, who's Green Toys line has been producing environmentally-friendly recycled plastic toys for more than five years.
We sat down with Sam Ireland, operations manager at the firm to find out more about the initiatives that are driving the firm's sustainability efforts forward.
What does the range do for the campaign towards sustainability within the toy space?
Sam Ireland: Green Toys are constantly promoting sustainability, their toys last for generations and their packaging is completely recyclable. We like to give consumers alternatives to toys that may be more harmful to the environment and do not offer the longevity that comes with Green Toys.
Why is this such an important topic in the industry today? Does it get enough recognition?
Ireland: Cheap plastic throwaway toys are still huge, little things you grab at the checkout as a small treat for your little one. It will take a long time to change behaviours and convince people of the benefit of more ‘eco’ toys.
Not enough companies are doing their bit within the toy industry to reduce waste and pollution, but we’re taking huge steps every day. Every time someone purchases one of our recycled toys they’ve diverted plastic from landfill, that makes us and our customers feel great! Our aim is always to provide great quality toys that can be passed down through generations and not contribute to landfill waste and pollution.
It’s an important initiative for everyone to get behind, the choices we make now affect our children for the next years to come.
How receptive is the UK to the concept of 'green toys'? What have been the biggest hurdles and successes?
Ireland: It was a bit of a slow burn, to begin with, but over the past 3 years especially, things have really gone from strength to strength. To begin with, consumers did not know they wanted a more sustainable product, but with more and more emphasis on sustainability in other parts of their lives, sustainability in toys has naturally started to become part of the thought process. Pricing has also been a key area. Green Toys are naturally a more expensive product to make. Getting that over to customers and consumers is not always an easy task.
Now that the brand is understood, consumers love it and sales are growing all the time.
Are we beginning to see a shift in the mindset among customers?
There’s a huge boom for all sustainable products, people are waking up and thinking about what we leave behind, from social media to blogs people are educating and helping each other to live a cleaner more organic lifestyle.
The Zero waste movement has been huge and we’re really excited to see what happens in the next few years.
People are more aware of the dangers of plastic than ever before, parents are taking steps back from BPA filled plastics and investing in long-lasting products that are cleaner and safer. There are still so many issues to tackle around plastics and packaging, but I think the toy industry is starting to take a step in the right direction.
What new developments is Green Toys bringing to the space to drive the message of sustainability?
Green Toys continue to push the sustainable nature of the product thought in-store POS and on-pack messaging to help consumers understand sustainability and the story behind the product they are buying. A consumer with more information can only lead to better choices being made, not just for toy purchased but also in other parts of their lives.
Major players such as LEGO and Hasbro are taking (albeit) small steps to 'go green'. Does this offer enough clout to the topic?
People are more educated on sustainability than ever before, people who are taking steps to reduce their impact are becoming brand loyal, to smaller brands they know they can trust. Brands like Lego and Hasbro should be leading the way to sustainable toys, the work they’ve done so far is great and it’s putting a more Eco childhood in the spotlight and making even more people think about what they’re purchasing.
What next for Big Jigs in the drive for sustainability?
Over the past year, Green Toys have been working on a new Organic form of dough that takes the brand into a new category crying out for sustainability.
As a company, Bigjigs Toys already have solar on our roof that produces more electricity than we use on a yearly basis and recycling programs in place that means our waste for landfill is as low as possible. We continue to look at lots of other ways that we can reduce our footprint to further drive our levels of sustainability.