Goodwood Deconstruction Blocks
10 Best Building, Construction Toy, Creative Product, Educational Skills, Socially Responsible
Goodwood is a new system of innovative wooden blocks, educator-designed to invite real creative play and to help children develop active, engaged minds. Made from sustainably harvested rubber wood, the beautifully colored and precisely crafted blocks are packaged in plain recycled craft cardboard packaging, without prescriptive guidelines, in order to invite authentic, open-ended engagement from children as they develop their own ways to play. The blocks are designed to cultivate an appreciation for the natural beauty and feel of wood, and to develop the imagination through their abstract forms and hues. These blocks, while fully biodegradable, are not destined for the landfill like so many of today’s toys. They are crafted with care, for quality and endurance. They are designed to be played with hour after hour, and year after year, until they are passed along to the next set of curious hands. The goodwood system is manufactured in a small and ethically run factory. The seven sets which currently comprise the system range from the smallest “mulch c” (18 pieces, $24.99 to the largest, “mulch f” (12 pieces, $34.99). Each set is packaged with an illustrated leaflet outlining the back story, or “embodied history” of the toy, in order to raise awareness of the social and environmental considerations taken into account in the development of the blocks. Care has been taken to ensure that the product reflects responsible social and environmental decision-making, and the developer’s website provides a mechanism for purchasing discounted sets for donation into orphanages and kindergartens in the developing world.
How AroundSquare Ltd is a Green Company
Aroundsquare is a small company devoted to healthy development, inside and out – individual and society. Aroundsquare is a social enterprise, not a business. They are benefit-driven, not profit-driven. The model generates profit as a means to further the more fundamental goals of environmental sustainability and social justice. From education and consulting, to creative toys, to charitable activities, Aroundsquare is involved in a variety of endeavors that leverage creativity and learning for the greater good. The company aims to mainstream social and environmental goals into all of its work. It strives to ensure that it not only provides products and services that benefit people, but also, that each step and each decision along the way creates its own benefits in turn. Matthew Hiebert, company founder and president, sees toys as having an important role in social progress, in that certain types of toys make special contributions to child development. He views the internal development of the child’s character and intellectual capacities as being closely linked to the development of dispositions, and social and physical capacities, and therefore, to society as a whole. Matt is an education specialist and consultant, and in addition to his efforts to better the world through toys, he is currently managing a $15 million Canadian government project to support the enhancement of early childhood education in Egypt. Aroundsquare made its first appearance in the toy world in 2006 with the quiet introduction of a skill toy named “dubulo” (a.k.a. monkey knuckles), before gaining some recognition in design circles for the multiple award winning Twig building blocks, licensed in 2008 to Fat Brain Toy Co.
Green thinking is incorporated into all processes and practices related to Goodwood Deconstruction Blocks: The company is guided by the above mission statement which positions Aroundsquare as a social enterprise—which means that this thinking factors into every decision. The blocks are made in a small, ethically run factory, which has been visited and inspected for safe and healthy working conditions, as well as environmental awareness and practices. The company has explicitly shared expectations with the factory, regarding the importance placed on social and environmental responsibility, and is constantly pushing the envelope by requesting greener materials and processes.
They encourage sourcing of materials as close to the factory as possible, so that investments stay in the local economy, and carbon footprints are minimized, and in addition, supports tree planting and re-forestation efforts to offset the wood used in making blocks, and the carbon footprint from product shipping. Whenever possible the company ships direct from factory to distributor to minimize pollution from shipping. With the belief that these toys are good for children, and that all children have the right to the developmental benefits of real creative play, toys are donated to orphanages and childcare facilities around the world – to date, Aroundsquare has supported children in care in China, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Tanzania, and Egypt. Aroundsquare makes charitable donations equivalent to at least 30% of profits. Aroundsquare is managed with sustainability in mind: office materials are reused and recycled, office equipment is purchased for energy efficiency, compact fluorescent bulbs used throughout premises, and whenever possible reclaimed materials are used—for instance prototypes are created from lumber which is reclaimed from discarded wooden palettes.
The blocks themselves are also green: The blocks are made from sustainably harvested rubber wood. Packaging and inserts are made from post-consumer recycled, and completely recyclable/biodegradable paper and cardboard. All coatings are CPSIA-certified non-toxic, and will biodegrade alongside the wood at end of use. The toys are built from high quality materials for durability (Aroundsquare strives for heirloom quality). The blocks come with an illustrated educational leaflet outlining the back story or “embodied history” of the toy, to raise the awareness of child and parent regarding the importance of the decisions which are beneath the surface of the product on the shelf. Furthermore, the product is designed to promote an active (as opposed to passive) orientation in the child by having them think for themselves and make their own decisions, and to stimulate authentic engagement and curiosity, creativity, as well as focus and concentration. These dispositions are fundamental precursors to the development of active citizenship. The blocks are also designed to cultivate an appreciation for the character of wood, and for natural and durable items.