Looking for a great kid’s toy for a little one in your life? You really can’t go wrong with LEGO.
Chances are not every purchase we make with be perfectly ethical or green or sustainable or fair trade or what have you. For our family, perfection is not a realistic goal. Instead, I try to focus on the happy medium where ethical and minimalist meet mainstream.
I often ask myself, “How do we make “better” choices, knowing that the perfect answer may be more burdensome than we are willing to endure? We aren’t all going to be buying and consuming 100% ethical, eco-friendly everything immediately. Where’s the balance between responsible and convenient that’s good enough?”
For me, I don’t anticipate ever achieving 100% “compliance” with ethical consumption principles. I consciously reflect on my choices nearly every purchase, and I attempt to make better choices each time I open my wallet. But I don’t always choose the most organic or fair trade or sustainable alternative. Particularly with children, such a commitment would likely become an all-encompassing endeavor. I want to make an impact, but not at the cost of the rest of my life.
I think we’ve succeeded in finding a relative balance with respect to our boys’ toy collections. They have plenty of toys (including a couple that make me cringe just a bit), but their collections aren’t massive. They play mostly with crayons and paper, balls and sports equipment, a few cars, trucks, and planes, and a ginormous bucket of LEGOS.
Love for LEGO
I really like LEGOs. And my boys absolutely LOVE LEGOs.
While LEGO may be anything but the definition of a grass roots sustainable toy company, I think it deserves some credit for being a pretty responsible toy option for our kids. It’s not the cheapest toy on the market (but most inexpensive toys are cheap for a reason). However, they have high quality and safety standards for their production and their products, without any recalls in over five years.
They have a LEGO Foundation that supports community outreach and learning through play for children and communities around the world. They’ve made meaningful improvements in energy efficiency in the last several years and strive for zero waste production (a good move for the environment and the bottom line). And they wrote a 72 page Responsibility Report that you can read for yourself, if you’d like, about the full scope of social responsibility initiatives and practices within the company.
None of Us Are Perfect; Let’s Celebrate the Victories
I don’t purport to believe LEGO is a perfectly sustainable and responsible company. Nearly all of us, though, could always be doing better in some aspects. However, they’re on the right track and they’ve established and made progress toward goals that make them more socially responsible in a host of arenas. Let’s celebrate what they are doing well and that they’re actively making progress.
Beyond anything going on at the company, the toys themselves are about as sustainable a toy as one can find on the market (especially today). LEGOs last forever. Not only do LEGOs physically last for decades, but they remain engaging and a source of life long learning for children of all ages (even adults) and are passed along from generation to generation.
We’ve recently been living at M’s parents house for several months while we renovate the new house that we bought. M’s old LEGOs have been a huge hit with the boys. They survived thirty years and are still as relevant as the day they were first purchased.
In this respect, it feels analogous to the #30Wears Campaign in fashion. No matter what the brand, if you’ll wear it at least 30 times, buy it. It will have earned its keep just by being relevant for so long. Our LEGO collection is way past “30 Wears.”
Big Initiatives and Bigger Budgets
Giving big companies credit for the good efforts they are making can be challenging. It’s hard to know how much is enough. They have such large budgets, so significant contributions and campaigns to any socially conscious endeavor can sometimes appear dismal next to international production budgets and multi-national marketing figures.
But established traditional companies, in most cases, can’t just flip a switch and become grass roots companies with missions driven solely by social justice initiatives. At the most basic level, profits matter (they’re a for profit business after all). Also, these companies have loads of stakeholders like employees, vendors and customers (who also employ hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people), who must also be considered in assessment of every small initiative and certainly any paradigm shift in the company’s mission. Changes have to happen over time and in a meaningful yet diligent and thoughtful way.
We Have Lots of LEGOs in Our House
On the road to helping our boys learn to make responsible choices and leading by example, I’m a big fan of LEGO for all the aforementioned reasons. We have purchased a few themed sets for them, like this airplane set and this train set. But we primarily buy generic brick collections like this LEGO Duplo collection that has been a huge hit for our boys. I’m sure we will be moving up to this classic LEGO set as the boys get a little older. The basic blocks foster so much creative freedom and use of their imaginations.
When it comes to toy purchases I can feel good about, for us, LEGO makes the grade. What do you think? Are you a fan of LEGO?