With the world’s rainforests vanishing at a rapid rate, children’s toy company Click-A-Brick is turning to what it knows best in an effort to help. With its 30-piece Rainforest Rascals set, the educational learning toy maker hopes to teach children about how rainforests benefit the planet, as well as to inspire a new generation of people committed to rainforest conservation.
MarketersMedia reports that Click-A-Brick co-founders Jason Smith and Georg de Gorostiza were alarmed to learn that if rainforest decimation is not halted, the complex ecosystems could disappear altogether by the mid-21st century. To help, they developed Rainforest Rascals, which features amphibians and reptiles with bricks of dark and light green as well as brown. Using the bricks, children can build a snake, frog, turtle, iguana and a chameleon, along with any other amphibians or reptiles they can dream up.
Smith and de Gorostiza say that children who play with Rainforest Rascals are likely to think more about the creatures they are replicating, as well as where they live, what they eat, and how they interact with their habitat. If parents are interested and informed concerning rainforests, their involvement only helps all the more, they added.
Click-A-Brick representatives suggest parents combine the Rainforest Rascals set with the company’s previously released 30-piece Feather Friends set, which is composed of blue, red and yellow bricks as well as eyes, allowing the user to build a variety of tropical birds, including a flamingo, macaw, toucan, kingfisher and cockatiel.
In a related vein, MIT News reports that villagers in rainforest communities such as Mahor, Guayabo and Sawacito, Honduras are sustainably harvesting mahogany, usually by focusing on trees that have fallen due to natural causes and by removing planks on their own backs and then on muleback to avoid disturbing the forest floor, and selling it to Tegu Toyworks. The company, formed by a group of U.S. investors and financial partners, plans to manufacture wooden toys to sell in Europe and the United States. It plans to employ Honduran craftspeople at the factory, paying premium wages for their work.
While a number of Honduran craftspeople already sell mahogany to American guitar maker Gibson, they are looking for more markets for their product, which also includes lesser-known wood such as huesito and selillon. That’s where the toys come in. Tegu Toyworks products are planned to be innovative, high-end toys targeted to lucrative markets.
MIT Sloan School master’s student Craig Doescher is the leading force behind Tegu Toyworks. He enrolled at MIT because he wanted to mix his interests in entrepreneurship and the economies of the developing world. He began working with a group at MIT that had been working on the toy manufacturing plan and took it to the next level. His vision includes helping to conserve Honduran rainforests by providing good wages for work, which should cut down on the amount of unsustainable harvesting locals do, as well as bringing more widespread attention to the plight of the region’s fragile rainforest ecosystems.
Tegu Toyworks is looking ahead to building its Honduras factory, which it hopes to do by the end of 2015 or early 2016. Part of the planning process includes determining how much automation to include in the plant versus human labor. Doescher said he hopes to introduce computer numerical control systems to help with the initial shaping of wood pieces, while leaving finish-sanding to be done by hand.
To help save the world’s rainforests, visit The Rainforest Site. A portion of proceeds from every purchase of clothing, home decor or other items on the site, as well as donations, go toward conserving the world’s rainforests.Whizzco