This week’s topic comes from you, our loyal fans. On Twitter we asked what you wanted to hear about in our blog this week and this was one of the more requested items…
Ready, Set… GO!
Earlier this year, we entered into a partnership with Wham-O toys. Since then a lot of questions have been raised by our consumers and retailers… How will this affect quality standards? Packaging standards? Did we sell out? Are we compromising our eco-message?
We are extremely lucky to be partnering with a company who recognizes our innovation and respects our environmental stance. In addition, Wham-O has been a long time developer of active toys, which is one of our corporate values as well. With the partnership, Wham-O has started using some of our material in their products, a trend we are encouraged to see. Having a large corporation such as Wham-O use our material further legitimizes the use of recycled materials and, we hope, will further push the use of more responsible materials by more and more toy makers. Both Wham-O and Sprig still source Sprigwood from the same U.S. manufacturer we have been using: so we know there is no change in material quality.
Additionally, we are still designing all toys with active play and sustainability in mind and still working with packaging developers and approving packaging so that the boxes you see still meet the quality standards you have come to expect: minimal packaging using recycled materials, no twist ties, and soy or water based inks. So the packaging remains as safe as the toys inside.
I feel pretty strongly that in a lot of ways, we are not compromising our environmental standards, though we have not reached Environmental Nirvana quite yet. (See some of our earlier posts for more info on this.)
The move to Wham-O has meant a change in manufacturing locations, and some of our line will be produced in China this summer. While intially concerning, we have been encouraged by Wham-O’s recent move to produce their pool noodles in the United States and their development of a factory in the Pacific Northwest that will handle some of our toy production. We hope to see this trend continue because we know how important it is to you, our consumer. Concerns about toys produced in China center on two issues:
Safety: We will test our entire product line, as we always have, to make sure that it is safe for our smallest fans. Our product is tested by third party testing facilities and we regularly do quality inspections here at the Sprig Shedquarters to make sure our standards are being met. For each shipment of product, we regularly have a small quantity of each production run sent to our offices so we ensure every run meets our standards. At the end of the day, we want to produce product that is safe for the environment and for the little ones that occupy it.
Carbon Footprint: Producing product as close to the consumer as possible is preferable. In the past, this is why Sprig has had our product produced in North America. We hit an unfortunate reality recently: producing product in North America is more expensive and with the economic downturn, fewer consumers are willing to pay more for toys. For a small company like Sprig, partnering with Wham-O gives us the ability to utilize their relationships and higher volumes to get better pricing for our toys. You have probably noticed that our toys are getting less expensive… this is why! We have also done analyses on the environmental impact of container shipping from China. The carbon emissions are relatively small per container, so this was always the one thing we did that actually had the smallest impact. We also are seeing a growth in our Asian and Australian businesses as a result of our partnership, which means having at least some of our product produced near those consumers makes sense for us. Ideally, we would love to see production on both continents, but I think getting there will take time.
Any transition is not easy, but I feel like both companies have brought a lot of positives to the table. I think that as we smooth out the bumps in the road, we will continue to travel in the direction you have come to expect from Sprig.
(Oh, and we understand that Wham-O is making pool noodles from recycled materials… which is pretty exciting to us!)
If there are other topics you would like to see us discuss, let us know! We are happy to answer your questions. Other topics suggested that we will be discussing in the coming weeks: Inexpensive summer activities (with the emphasis on active) for kids; how does Sprig ensure material safety; and what is our favorite beer… (um, oops, not that last one…)
You can contact me by commenting below or tweet me: @kimatsprig.