The Sustainable Future Of LEGO®

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LEGO with hand building a wall

If you read me at all, you know I wanted to be an architect from the time I was six years old. I had a dollhouse, and, yeah, I played with dolls in it. I was more fascinated, though, by how the stairs came up through a hole in the second floor, how the doors opened, where the windows were placed, the pitch of the roof, the dormers, and how the furniture fit in it perfectly.

My other childhood love was LEGO®s. For hours and hours, I’d build houses and forts with them, and try to get the stairs just right to reach the top of the structure. I failed every time, but I had nice windows! Back in the 1960s, LEGO®s were blocks, nothing else. Nothing was round, and nothing had a smiling face on it. We had to use our imaginations to build something. I got pretty creative in my home designs (those damn stairs!), and this was the beginning of my lifelong interest in building and space planning.

LEGO®s are made of ABS plastic, which is petroleum based and not biodegradable. According to this news story, LEGO® is looking to find a plastic resin that is more sustainable. Bravo!

LEGO®’s goals

How wonderful my childhood toy will have a smaller impact on the environment as well as be better for children’s health with less off-gassing.

LEGO® wants to reduce the amount of plastic they use, which means less air pollution and CO2 emissions during manufacture.

They also want the product to be as durable as the ABS product. LEGO®s get handed down through generations, which says it’s a good product. You get your money’s worth with LEGO®s. That’s sustainable in itself – a long life cycle.

The new material must also not come from a food crop. So many plastic-alternative products are made partly of soy or grains. Food should be grown to be consumed in this era of an expanding world population and less land for growing food. Products, including fuel, should not be made from food crops.

Using hemp

I think LEGO® should explore hemp as their material. Hemp was used for everything from paper to jeans and sails until the plastics manufacturer, DuPont, pushed Congress to outlaw it in 1937.

Hemp is durable and can be molded to any shape. It can be harvested more than once a year, so it’s very renewable. There is no waste, since the entire plant can be used.

Hemp does not need a lot of water, and it needs little fertilizer. It grows wild in the Midwest US, so that shows you the conditions it will withstand.

It can be used for the fuel to transport the product from one place to another. Henry Ford’s Model T was made of hemp, and it was designed to run on hemp oil.

Plastic and petroleum products replaced hemp with damaging results. Let’s turn the clock back and start manufacturing with hemp again. Let LEGO® show the world how it’s done! Save the planet and provide our children with non-toxic toys!

Your thoughts?

What are your favorite memories of LEGO® from your childhood?

What are your thoughts on making it sustainable?

Do you think that hemp is the right source for it? Why or why not?

Tell us about it in the comments section of this post.

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.