Take the BIG Bobby Car, which has been constructed the same way for decades:
instead of using lots of individual, interconnected components, the car makes do with one big part. This reduces the potential for damage. There are only a few joints, which means that the car is less prone to obsolescence.
The customer can swap and repair damaged add-on parts, without having to shell out for transport or maintenance services. With neither bulky items nor unnecessary weight to be transported, fewer energy resources are consumed. This extends the product’s lifespan so that it does not simply end up on the scrapheap.
Compact and multifunctional with less material
Another aspect of sustainability: products are becoming virtual, increasingly compact and multifunctional and can be manufactured with less material, making them cheaper. However, this also has its downsides, as lower costs can lead to greater consumption and faster replacement of consumer goods.
New smartphones act as “black boxes” and can be used to perform many different functions. A single device then replaces several products, thereby reducing the number of things we surround ourselves with. Linking apps and traditional toys is another way to digitise toys without adding electronic devices.
But multifunctional ideas come in other forms as well. Increasingly, the toy industry is incorporating the packaging and cardboard boxes into its games as well. Right from the product design stage, all components can be considered for the play experience. More fun, less waste.
The origins of a product and its components also play a big role in terms of the environmental footprint. For example, cardboard boxes produced in Asia from wood sourced from European forests obviously have a greater energy footprint than those produced from locally sourced raw materials from sustainably managed forests.
Naturally, not every material has the same environmental footprint. Some, such as aluminium, require an immense amount of energy during production. Whether this extra energy expenditure can be made up for again throughout the product life cycle based on the material properties – thus making the material more eco-friendly than others – is questionable.