Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Green Toys from Toys "R" Us: Good Green Fun?

As if you need further evidence that eco-friendly marketing and green products are on the rise, Toys"R"Us announced in a press release the launch of an exclusive line of environmentally friendly toys that will be marketed under the Toys"R"Us brand. Exerpts from the release are quoted below:

"The first toys in the collection -- Natural Wooden Toys, Natural Cotton plush animals and Organic Cotton Dolls -- will be available exclusively at Toys"R"Us stores nationwide and online at www.Toysrus.com by Earth Day, April 22.

The toy products promote "Good Green Fun." The toys come packaged in earth-tone colored boxes that bear a special "R" seal. This seal consists of a green version of the iconic Toys"R"Us reversed "R" logo with a green leaf, encircled by the words "Recycle, Renew, Reuse, Re-think," and signifies for parents that the toys are eco-friendly.

"We know that kids are becoming more environmentally conscious and are curious about how they can do their part to help protect the planet," said Karen Dodge, Chief Merchandising Officer, Toys"R"Us, U.S. "Going green is more than just a trend. It's becoming a lifestyle. This is just our first step in offering our customers the best selection of eco-friendly and organic products in all of our Toys"R"Us stores nationwide."

Crafted from natural materials, these items come in packaging that is made from no less than 70% recycled material. The Natural Wooden Toys are decorated using a unique wood-burning technique, which offers a classic look. The Natural Cotton plush animals and Organic Cotton Dolls are colored using natural or water-based dyes and are made with unprocessed, unbleached and untreated cotton.

In addition, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified that the materials used to make the Natural Wooden Toys were sourced from well-managed forests, using a system of ten rules that define responsible forest management. Each wooden product in the collection is marked with an identifiable FSC logo.

The Natural Wooden Toys include a fire engine, utility crane, shape sorter, trailer truck, racing car, formula car, alphabet blocks wagon and stacking train."

What does all this mean for museums and exhibit developers? Well, if you have an early childhood gallery, you better stash the primary-colored plastic toys from Playskool!

On a more serious note, as mainstream companies like Toys "R" Us and Wal-Mart develop, market, and sell green products, both Museum Exhibit Clients and Museum Customers will expect to see exhibition galleries and design features that show green sensibilities.

Is some of this "greenwashing"? Perhaps, but if Toys "R" Us can Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rethink, can't Museums and Museum Designers as well?