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The Reef Rescue Crew are the colourful characters positively reinforce for children the significance of reducing plastic waste, recycling correctly and keeping plastic out of our oceans. The toys your children will adore while creating a positive impact!
We interview Miranda, founder and creator of Happy Planet Toys. As a parent herself, she saw how children are drowning in an ocean of plastic every single Christmas. She’s come to radically change that with her brand that not just is mindful of the lifecycle of the toys, but also how the brand can drastically reduce our carbon footprint and let kids enable change just by playing!
Hi Miranda, would love to hear a bit more about your background and what led you to start the Happy Planet Toys?
I’m a mum of three gorgeous boys, and the idea for Happy Planet Toys started after my eldest child’s second Christmas. I couldn’t believe the number of plastic toys he received and most was mass-produced and non-recyclable plastic toys. Not wanting the build-up of plastic toys to keep increasing at the rate they were, I searched but struggled to find sustainable alternatives that would be similar to the toys my children love to play with. This is when the idea for Happy Planet Toys was born.
Truth is that no parent wants to deny their children the joy of new toys, but at the same time, we’re all acutely aware of the environmental impact of all these plastic toys. Now with Happy Planet Toys, I’ve created a range of quality, engaging and fun toys made from 100% recycled plastic that children will love to play with, as a simple and sustainable alternative to new plastic toys.
What is the mission of the brand, what’s the type of positive change you are seeking to create?
Our mission is fairly simple – to provide children with a fun yet simple and sustainable swap for new plastic toys, reducing plastic waste that ends up in landfills, or worse, in our oceans. The colourful characters positively reinforce for children the significance of reducing plastic waste, recycling correctly and keeping plastic out of our oceans and are a fabulous and practical way to show kids how recycling can become something special.
We believe that inspiring young children to protect the environment is a great way to encourage families to be more sustainable in general. We also want our toys to play a part in enabling more positive change, which is why we donate at least 10% of our profits to organisations and individuals doing great things for our environment, and to make our children’s future more sustainable.
No parent wants to deny their children the joy of new toys, but we’re all acutely aware of the environmental impact of all these #plastic toys. Happy Planet Toys comes with a range of engaging & fun toys made from 100% #recycled… Click To Tweet
The collection of toys made of recycled plastic, what are the features if we compare to traditional plastic toys?
One of the most important features of our toys is that they are made from 100% recycled plastic. Our range is fully recyclable, a feature that is already quite different from a lot of traditional plastic toys. These tend to include metal bolts and other parts, making them very difficult or even impossible to recycle.
Furthermore, the fact that our toys are made from recycled plastic milk bottles, so they’re food-safe and free from BPA and other toxins. They can go into the dishwasher for a good clean, and the plastic is extremely durable, so we see the toys being passed down from generation to generation. We wanted to ensure the toys were classic in design, and durable, to ensure they’re not broken or cast aside easily.
Happy Planet Toys is just started out, but the brand has already used approximately 4,000 plastic milk bottles to produce these #ecofriendly toys. That’s 168kg of plastic that’s been kept out of landfills! Click To Tweet
What other ethical and sustainable features come with Happy Planet Toys?
Our plastic recycled toys are fully designed and manufactured in Australia (from recycled Australian plastic), so we’re reducing our carbon footprint by removing the requirement for transport during manufacturing.
Plus, we’re acutely aware of how over-packaged toys can be. This is why our toys are simply packaged in recycled cardboard boxes, with just a strip of card to hold the toys in place. All these factors ensure we’re creating a product that’s as sustainable as possible.
Could you please provide some data of impact with Happy Planet Toys, such as how many Kg worth plastic is been recycled thus far?
We’re only just starting out, but already we’ve used approximately 4,000 plastic milk bottles to produce our toys so far. That’s 168kg of plastic that’s been kept out of landfills!
And where does all this “recycled plastic” come from as well as the process to transform into beautiful and sustainable toys?
Our plastic is sourced from Australian kerbsides, so the milk bottles that Australian families place in their plastic recycling may well make into one of our toys! Once the plastic is collected, it is washed, sterilised and shredded at the recycling facility. Our local Australian manufacturers then take that plastic, combine it with food-safe colour and run it through special tools to mould and create our beautiful toys.
Happy Planet Toys does a big job in circularity as it also contemplates them to be recycled at the end of its lifecycle. What makes a toy recyclable or not? What do need parents to look for to ensure toys are sustainable?
Most plastic toys are unfortunately very hard to recycle, as they contain metal parts, bolts or batteries. These toys can’t be processed at recycling facilities as the toys cannot be broken apart and the additional parts removed. Additionally, lots of toys are made from blended plastics (as opposed to one type of plastic in our case), which means they can’t be re-melted and re-constituted into different plastic products.
Our recommendation to parents is to read the packaging carefully and take note of what toys are made from – if there is no information to indicate what the toys are made from, or whether they’re recyclable, there’s a high chance they’re not recyclable. It’s always worth contacting the toy manufacturer to confirm this, however.
Your toys are entirely made in Australia, which is great support on the country’s economy, taking into account that most toys are mass-produced in China. Would love to hear more about what made you take that decision and what’s been your experience?
Producing our toys in Australia was always essential for Happy Planet Toys. We want to support our local manufacturing industry, as well as our local circular economy. We’re also minimising our carbon footprint by reducing the need for air travel and air freight for the Australian market.
Realistically, we could have made our toys more cheaply by manufacturing off-shore, but this was a trade-off we were willing to make. We have some fantastic partners who’ve helped us create truly exciting toys at a very reasonable price.
Our recommendation to parents is to read the packaging carefully and take note of what toys are made from – if there is no information to indicate what the toys are made from, or whether they’re recyclable, there is a high chance… Click To Tweet
Now, what have been your challenges as a social entrepreneur?
Being one of the first to do something like this has meant a lot of research and development has been required. Understanding how the plastic behaves has required a lot of testing, so took a lot longer to develop than we initially thought. But all the effort and investment has been worth it to see the finished product.
One of the key distinctions most of the social entrepreneurs have in common is that they tend to collaborate. How do you perceive collaboration and how has it helped your business?
Collaboration has been critical in getting Happy Planet Toys to this point. We have collaborated with plastic experts, design and recycling experts, in order to fully understand all the elements required to create our toys. And now our toys are available, collaborating with eco-focused media and individuals to help build our profile has been so important to our success.
What has been the greatest success of the brand to date?
Quite simply, the feedback on the product we’ve created. I love seeing the smiles when people see our toys for the first time, then that look of surprise and delight when they realise they’re sustainable and made from recycled plastic milk bottles.
Our customers have provided us with some incredible feedback, telling us how much their children love our toys, how they spend so much time in the bath creating adventures with their Reef Rescue Crew. It’s so rewarding to know others love our toys as much as we do!
And do you have any upcoming collections that we should get excited about?
Yes, we have our newest toys due to arrive early in 2020. We’re keeping all the details under wraps for the moment, but can’t wait to reveal the newest member of our Happy Planet Toys family very soon!
You are based in Melbourne, Australia, how does a social entrepreneurial venture look like there? Do you feel there’s a change happening in the city?
I think there is a big shift happening across Australia. The attention on climate change and the issue of plastic waste is so prevalent, and rightly so. And in light of this, I’ve noticed a lot more motivation from consumers wanting to find better, sustainable alternatives. In the words of a number of our customers “we just have to change”. Here here!
Is there any advice you’d like to give to other small businesses trying to make a difference?
Have faith in what you’re trying to achieve, and stay the course. It takes a lot of confidence and resilience to put yourself and your product out there. Like any small business, it takes time to build your profile and get visibility for your product or service. But believe in what you’ve created and the change you want to make, sing it from the rooftops, and people will pay attention in time!
If each of you could write a message on a big wall that the entire world could read, what would it say?
Keep searching for sustainable alternatives, and innovators, and support them if you can. We can find solutions for our waste problems and help combat the impact on our environment. Sometimes it just takes a little more effort to find those solutions, but they’re out there!
Finally, where can we find you? Shop, online, worldwide…?
You can buy our fantastic toys from www.happyplanettoys.com.au. We can take orders for Australian and New Zealand customers via our website. If you’re further afield, we can ship anywhere in the world other than the USA at this point in time – simply pop us an email and we’ll be happy to get it sorted for you.
Have you ever considered researching into recycled plastic toys? Comment some of your favourite brands below!
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