At malls across the country, kids are eagerly lining up to sit on Santa’s lap and share their wish list. It’s easy to imagine that safety and sustainability of resources aren’t part of the criteria they use in making their lists, but thankfully there are toys out there that combine both the parents and children’s wishes for what appears under the Christmas tree.
The use of bamboo as a material is a newer idea to the Western world but more companies are becoming aware of the benefits of using it. Most notably is the company of HaPe International, a company focused on bringing bamboo as a material into the mass production perception to meet Western standards of production. The company benefits by using the highly sustainable resource of bamboo while staying true to their mission of providing safe, educational and entertaining toys for your children.
HaPe International recently introduced the Bamboo Collection, the world’s first collection of bamboo toys. With safety first in mind, these toys are enhanced with a water-based paint and offer a variety of games to educate and encourage interaction during game-playing. The toys are divided into 3 categories: Games, Creative and E-Racer Vehicles.
The Games category features 14 games that are 5 – 10 minute games designed for the parents & siblings to interact and play. My favorite game in this category is the Pandabo-Shape Match/Balancing game where players take turns adding sticks on top of the Panda which becomes more difficult as the sticks add up. The Creative games (designed for the thoughtful child) include activities like the Trapecolo-Multi-colored Mosaic, a creative set of 180 trapezoid mosaics for building multiple patterns. And for some fast-paced fun, HaPe has a line of E-Racer Vehicles with a streamlined design for hours of racing action. It’s worth noting that HaPe toys have also won a series of awards including the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold and Platinum Seal Award.
Taking it beyond manufacturing, HaPe is also leading the way to advocate for and educate about the bamboo toy market. In 2004, 15 students from a toy design course at Shenkar College in Israel made the trek to China to visit the bamboo forests of the Anji and Yunhe regions. While there, they observed the traditional cultivation process of bamboo and the traditional finishing techniques. They immersed themselves in the culture by staying with the local famers to learn more about the importance of bamboo usage in everyday life. Students also took part in a two-week workshop with HaPe designers and local artisans to learn more about bamboo as a material through a “hands-on” process and sat in on a proto-type test session with 600 local kindergarten children. Read more about their experience and the designs that the students came up with for bamboo toys.
With the recent concerns of toy safety and their potentially dangerous levels of chemicals, make 2009 the year that Santa brings the gifts of safety and sustainability down your chimney.
And if you are shopping for baby, bamboo baby clothes and accessories make wonderful eco-friendly gifts with their soft feel and hypoallergenic qualities. Another terrific holiday gift for baby is a cozy organic baby blanket or crib sheets. And for the grown-ups on your list (the nice ones of course!), give the gift of luxury with bamboo clothes or bamboo bedding. All of these products are great for holiday gifts and baby showers. Let it be a bamboo holiday extravaganza!