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Where on earth do I start?

PrototypeI came up with the idea for Happy Planet Toys after feeling overwhelmed by the environmental impact of plastic toys which were multiplying in my home. Given most toys are not recyclable, and so many are cheaply made and discarded quickly, I wanted to create a more sustainable alternative.

And that’s when the idea for Happy Planet Toys was born – I wanted to create a range of uniquely Australian toys, made from recycled plastic and fully recyclable. Easy, right?

So off I went with a range of my childrens’ favourite toys to see a product designer who could help me create my dream. I explained what I wanted – simply to create engaging and fun toys, but from recycled, not new plastic. But I was promptly laughed at. I was told it was impossible – toys couldn’t be created from recycled plastic, it’s too toxic, it’s years away from being possible, and more.

Needless to say, I left that meeting feeling extremely naïve and deflated. But I knew it was possible, as it had been done by a few companies overseas. It was just going to be a much bigger, tougher journey than I initially thought.

So where would I start? I knew I had to bed down my mandatories – the things I simply couldn’t budge on in the creation process. They included:

  • Ensuring the toys were made from 100% recycled plastic, which would then mean they could be easily recycled.
  • The plastic had to be free from BPA and other toxins, so it would be safe for young children.
  • Made in Australia – it’s always been really important to me that Happy Planet Toys supports our local manufacturing industry and the local circular economy, plus we reduce our carbon footprint by reducing unnecessary air freight.
  • A compelling and engaging design – what’s the point in creating a sustainable toy if kids don’t want to play with it?

That’s where it all started – not the easy, positive start I was hoping for, but at least I had an idea of the challenges I was going to face. The next part of the story? Learning all about plastic - stay tuned to hear all about it, I promise it’s more interesting than it sounds!