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Q&A on Green Manufacturing by Kitty Robertson Morse, Heirloom Wooden Toys

March 10, 2011

We recently did a Q & A with Betsy of the blog Eco-novice: Going Green Gradually on green manufacturing practices.  Hope you find it interesting!

Tell us about yourself.
We are a family owned business with 7 employees in the Los Angeles area.  Our kids are 16 and 13 now and grew up playing with the kinds of toys we sell on our site!

How did Heirloom Wooden Toys get started?

HWT was started by a couple in Massachusetts back in 2002.  We acquired it from them in October 2009 as a way for me to get back to work in a field where I can be inspired – I’m a CPA and have found that work is much more fun if you can be inspired by the products you’re accounting for.
What do you look for in a toy?

We look for the kinds of things most parents look for in toys – quality workmanship, creative design, durability, attention to safety in the design and materials used, and play or educational value.  In addition, we talk to our vendors about their manufacturing processes and try to understand them.  As you probably know, there are different ways to approach green manufacturing and our vendors definitely represent the entire spectrum.  There are trade-offs in price, shipping distances, packaging, etc, that factor into each company’s approach so while we don’t have a hard and fast rule about manufacturing practices, we do look for companies who are consciously addressing environmental or social issues and are making a positive impact in their community.  Our companies must also provide CPSIA or ASTM certificates where applicable and a warranty so we can be confident our customers are getting the best available products.

What are some of your favorite toys?

Hands down, my favorite all-time toy is a good set of wooden blocks.  I also love play kitchens and play food because every kid can get into that kind of imaginative play and the possibilities are endless.  Dress up clothes are another favorite – when my daughter was little we used to say it was like living with Diana Ross – a costume change every 15 minutes!

Heirloom Wooden Toys carries wooden toys by the company Plan Toys.  What makes Plan Toys a green toy company?

Plan Toys has been in business for 30 years now and you can find their toys just about everywhere.  They were the first company to use reclaimed rubberwood trees that no longer produce latex to make toys.  Their packaging is recycled and recyclable, their factories in Thailand operate on biomass and solar energy, and they strive for minimal waste in production.  They are a great company and every time I talk to one of their employees, they are happy to be working there and feel they are fairly treated.  Plan Toys is truly a leader in the industry in the area of green and socially responsible business practices.

Heirloom Wooden Toys carries wooden toys by the company Maple Landmark.  What makes Maple Landmark a green toy company?

I love this company!  They are family owned, based in Vermont, and very consciously applying a truly green philosophy to their entire operation.  They use local maple hardwood, sustainably harvested, that doesn’t travel more than 50 miles from the stump to the woodshop.  Over the last few years, they have decreased their energy usage by 20% just from streamlining and consolidating operations.  Their packing material is usually shredded magazines that are picked up locally.  And many of their products are unfinished, which showcases the wood as well as eliminates concerns about toxicity of paints or varnishes.  They are also very easy to work with, and their flexibility and control of the manufacturing process means they are never “waiting for a shipment.”  I feel like their approach to manufacturing and business is grounded in Yankee frugality and stewardship – more of a “waste not, want not” philosophy than jumping on the latest green bandwagon.  Just a great American company that is old-fashioned and modern at the same time.

Heirloom Wooden Toys carries wooden toys by the company Holgate Toys.  What makes Holgate a green toy company?

Holgate has been around since 1789 – and that’s not a typo!  They have been in continuous operation since the year that George Washington became president.  They are located in Pennsylvania and use only local kiln-dried hardwoods in their toys.  Owned by Pepperell Braiding Company, they operate independently and have a spotless reputation for quality and safety in design and manufacturing.  The history of this company parallels the history of our country, and you don’t stay in business that long without doing most things right.  Many of their older toys are still around, and this is one of the greenest things about wooden toys – they can be played with by the next generation (and the next…) with zero additional manufacturing, shipping, packaging, or impact on the environment.

If you are looking to buy a gift or toy for your child or grandchild, think of Heirloom Wooden Toys where we provide sustainable, safe wooden toys, games and furniture that will last for generations to come.  You can shop by Age, Price, Brand, or just browse hundreds of products for all kinds of kids.  Many of our products are Made in the USA so you can support businesses that are keeping jobs at home.  Looking for custom products?  We have a large selection of items that can be personalized or engraved with your name or message.  Free Shipping on orders over $99!  Contact Kitty Robertson Morse at or (866) 202-8073.

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 23, 2011 8:48 pm

    Nice article, please check out this piece on the Toxicity of Paints,

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