Happy Earth Day! At Tegu, we think the Earth is worth celebrating every day of the year. We value sustainability and think eco-friendly wooden blocks are a great start, but we also care about the way we are treating the earth and how we will pass it on to our kids. We are committed to leaving the earth better than we found it.
How are we doing that? One important way is by planting trees. Did you know wood is a completely self-sustaining renewable resource when harvested responsibly?
In the past, clear-cutting has not allowed for natural forest regeneration and contributes to erosion. Look at this picture:
We wanted to have a different impact. After carefully selecting and responsibly harvesting, we partner with Trees for the Future to replant what we use. In 2012, we replanted 983 trees for every 1 that we used! We are pretty excited about that!
When you buy a set of Tegu Wooden Blocks, you receive more than a sustainable wooden toy. A portion of each set is automatically put towards our reforestation efforts and replanting trees.
And you can do more! On our website, you can directly donate and plant trees yourself! It is only $5 to plant 3 dozen trees! Cool!
Maybe you have been with us since our very first magnetic wooden block set launched in 2009, or maybe you had never heard of Tegu before receiving a set for Christmas last year. However long it has been, we want to take a moment to say thank you! 2012 was a big year at Tegu, and we couldn’t have done it without you.
People are first drawn to Tegu for many different reasons. Our social mission in Honduras. Our desire to foster creativity and help equip your children through open-ended play. Our eco-friendly and sustainable practices. Our simply beautiful design. We are taking these things seriously, and having fun doing it!
Thank you for caring about these things too. Thank you for introducing Tegu Blocks into the lives of your family and friends. We look forward to many years together ahead! We love being a toy that children return to year after year and we love seeing the way our building system grows with a child as their imagination grows. We look forward to seeing their children play with Tegu. Yes, that’s right! We are confident in the heirloom quality of our product and we are creating a toy company designed to be around 100+ years from now!
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we want to celebrate 2012. Starting tomorrow we will be sharing fun facts from our 2012 annual report and hosting 24 hour promotions to let you know how much we appreciate you!
Will Haughey, Tegu co-founder and Chief Blockhead, shared the Tegu Story while on vacation to reconnect with his Kiwi roots.
The interview started with questions that many who hear about Tegu for the first time often wonder. Why Honduras? “Why would you establish a company in one of the least developed and unstable countries in Central America? Why are you making life so hard for yourself Will?”
Will recalled that it all started while his brother Chris was travelling through the country and felt compelled to do something about the extreme poverty and dire economy. The brothers were soon “struck by the reality that the best way to serve the poor was through the creation of a business that could stand on its own two feet and be attached to the global economy.”
Honduras is a country of 7 million people with 65% of its population living below the poverty line. As Will pointed out during the interview, it is “a difficult environment to say the least but that’s exactly why it needs businesses like Tegu.”
Thus far Tegu has created 50+ stable jobs in Honduras, pays above market wages, supports reforestation and local education, and uses FSC-certified and sustainable hardwoods. In the words of the interviewer, it is an example of “capitalism with a social face.”
The concluding question in the interview was particularly interesting: “What’s next? How big can you get?” Will answered: “our vision is to create the world’s most innovative premium toy company” and to “create hundreds if not thousands of jobs.”
At Tegu, we pride ourselves on our sustainable harvesting practices and tree-planting efforts and are truly impressed when we encounter companies with similar priorities. Take a look at Simply Fido, a new toy company for dogs with a heartfelt back-story. They are leading the way in the green toy movement and we love their use of natural dyes and organic cotton. We also just happen to adore puppies.
Read the CNN article and watch a video of the toys in action here: Pet Toys Going Green.
So the next time you’re stocking up on children’s toys, make sure to include some playthings for Fido with your new magnetic wooden blocks. In a perfect world, both children and puppies would have high-design, safe, environmentally-friendly toys. We’ve got the children’s toy chest covered!
WARNING: there’s going to be a lot of greenspeak and greenwashing today. Just as it’s easy to say that a toy is “educational” because it’s donning a letter from the alphabet, it’s also easy to say that you’re “green” because you have a recycling bin in the office. As many of you already know, it’s much harder to actually be green. Without denigrating said greening efforts and statements in the slightest, we’d argue that the burden is actually on you to seek more transparency around the milieu of eco-friendly messages that get tossed your way . “Going green,” is hard to do if you’re honest about it. It tends to be a more expensive and time consuming path. Sound like a healthy direction for a cash-strapped start-up? We’re doing our best and below is our honest account.
We take environmental stewardship very seriously at Tegu, and to celebrate Earth Day, we’ve decided to “up our game”. We encourage you to do the same.
To begin, Tegu thinks about environmental stewardship in the larger context of our corporate social responsibility plan.
Every time a Tegu toy is sold, a positive chain of events is set in motion; it doesn’t just end with a happy child flexing his or her creative horsepower. We give every buyer a choice to either plant a dozen trees or to send a Honduran child to school for a day, as part of the purchase. But it’s not only the environment and children that benefit. As Tegu grows, we continue to add jobs at our factory in Honduras where we aspire to one day be the employer of choice. As you can see, great toys are only the start.
Thanks to our great customers, we’ve already planted 4,839 trees and donated 710 school days! Watch the badges on the left-hand margin of our website; we’ve made it easy to track these efforts in real-time.
Culturally, we also take environmental stewardship seriously because “Stewardship” is one our core values. To quote directly from our core values document, “we are committed to being a responsible steward of resources: people, capital, property, and environment.”
Now that you know where we stand, let’s talk about what we’ve done, what we plan to do, and how you can help.
How is Tegu working to go green?
We’ve implemented a small (but effective) sustainability program for our office space. The elements of this plan include a certain fastidiousness around recycling, increasing our energy reduction awareness, reducing our water consumption, and purchasing green office supplies and materials. We also encourage our employees and partners to implement these changes in their personal lives. For example, Tegu employees have requested that trees be planted in New York City near their homes, purchased shares in a CSA program (Community Supported Agriculture), and reported various other acts of stewardship using the Billion Acts of Green feature on the Earth Day website. Lastly, we keep updated on the latest research and thought leadership provided by organizations and groups like Earth Day Network, RecycleBank, and the US EPA.
How are Tegu products environmentally sustainable?
At Tegu, we really do believe that less is more. We oppose the prevailing wisdom which states that certain toys are only appropriate for certain stages of development. While this might be uniquely true for specific products like teething or clasping toys, we’d encourage you to stand your ground on a few, special toys, whose play matures with the maturity of the user. Tegu blocks are built to last through the generations. We also have a block recycling program in place that our customers can utilize if they no longer want their blocks. The blocks are made of sustainably-harvested natural Honduran hardwoods, most of which come with FSC certification. Finally, we use a non-toxic water-based lacquer.
Going forward, we plan to do more and we’ll use this space to keep you posted on our efforts. Tomorrow, we plan to take advantage of the Grand Central EarthFair to learn how we can further improve our stewardship initiatives. Drop brandon [at] tegu dot com an email if you plan to be there too!
What can you do?
Help the planet and a child by getting your hands on a set of Tegu blocks now. Become an advocate for Tegu and other like-minded products and companies. Purchase a bundle of trees to help our replanting efforts in Honduras. Friend us on Facebook. Sign up for our newsletters about which pertain to our social and environmental impact. Consider self-reporting your green acts on Billions Acts of Green.
In summary, let us reiterate that we are not perfect, but we’re serious about doing this right and we’ll remain committed to transparency and honesty as we proceed. We’d love to hear about your experiences and insights around this topic. As always, contact us at anytime!