By Reyne Rice, Toy Trend Analyst and Trend-Spotter, New York, New York, USA
First posted on the YourToyCom.com blog forum and community website serving the toys, games and childrens’ technology industries, on behalf of the Spielwarenmesse. Spielwarenmesse is the leading and largest International ToyFair in the world, held annually in Nuremberg, Germany in early February.
So many incredibly innovative and wonderful Eco-Friendly toys are being launched and presented here at the Spielwarenmesse 2013.
This ongoing sustainability trend continues to play an understated role in the toy industry. Consumers are more vocal about wanting to have toys that are safe, non-toxic and made from natural materials, and from factories and manufacturers that support using sustainable practices.
Many retailers and consumers are carving out budgets for these types of products that promote eco-consciousness and concern for our natural resources. These include wooden and fabric toys, products and games made from recycled materials and those that educate children about what they can do, to take small steps toward protecting and preserving our environment.
Here is a quick overview of some of the products you will find at Spielwarenmesse 2013:
Education with Up-Cycling, Re-Cycling and Sustainability
Make 2 Play (Portugal) and Makedo (Australia) propose the use of up-cycling in some of their product offerings, because they feel that kids do want to make the world a better place. UpCycling refers tore-using a product that would otherwise have been considered trash and ready for the dumpster. By re-using these products and up-cycling them into a second usable form, they are teaching kids about a practical way to re-use our resources.
One example of sustainability in practice, is Plan Toys (Thailand), a well-known and consistent provider of sustainable wooden playsets and products for children, with over 25 years of using favorable and sustainable practices in their factories, soy inks in their colorations, and sustainable wood products, harvested from sustainable wood forests in Thailand.
Boikido (France), HABA (Germany), Hape (Hong Kong), GOTOY (Denmark) and GOGO Toys (Taiwan) all provide great examples of products for toddlers to preschoolers and more, that offer wooden objects with extensive play pattern options. One example is the Toy Award 2013 nominee from HABA, for toddlers, Large Play Set Zoo. Not only are the beautifully crafted products made from wood, the playset zoo case also serves as a storage case for the entire playset. GOTOY, another ToyAward 2013 nominee, offers delightful and elegant wooden play objects that provide open-ended play for infants to toddlers and for older children, with beautifully crafted items of wood. Many more examples are offered on the Halls, especially in Hall 3.
Nature-inspired Education and Hands-on Learning
Multiple opportunities exist for teaching children about nature activities, alternative sources of energy and ways to care for our natural resources. These have a long-lasting effect on children, in introducing them to being care-takers of our earth, and limited natural resources. It also provides opportunities for hands-on experiences in the outdoors and with nature, to build life-long-lasting appreciation for nature through play experiences.
An example is My Nature Activity Book (Moses, Germany). This guide book for girls aged 8 years and up encourages a wealth of activities for exploring, creating, playing and collecting. Girls can play solo or with friends, and record their activities and observations. Instructions for creating gardens and other nature activities will inspire girls throughout the entire year.
Solar products and Science products using alternative energy sources are another way to teach children about natural resources. Manufacturers in this segment include Weico (Germany), Kosmos (Germany), Amazing Toys (Hong Kong) Super Scientific Set, and multiple others. Visit Halls 4.5 and 10 for examples of these products, in action.
Fabric products, made from natural materials
There are soft and eco-friendly fabric products, offered for children at the Spielwarenmesse 2013, especially in Halls 1,2 and 3. Some of these fabric product manufacturers have specific ranges targeted specifically for the eco-conscious consumer. These products can be made from non-allergenic materials, use non-toxic and natural dye processes for coloration, or natural fabrics in their construction. Some of these manufacturers include Kathy Kruse (Germany), Lilliputiens (Belgium), Globe TroToys (France), and many others. Soft and cuddly, for babies and infants, and appealing to older children, to develop nurturing skills, and as comfort toys. With so many ways and so many manufacturers offering products that teach kids about eco-consciousness, retailers can find many different ways to introduce these products to their customers.