HABA produce in harmony with nature.

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This week, we published our sustainability report for 2021, highlighting the ways in which we try to limit our impact on the environment in all areas of our business. Also, how we constantly review and strive to improve. 

In this respect, we feel hugely proud of our long-term association with HABA in Germany.  HABA have always been at the forefront of innovation in sustainable manufacturing, with ethical and fully traceable supply chains. They are always looking for new ways to help protect the world’s limited resources with best practice.

Hopefully, this sustainability report speaks volumes itself, while also (concisely) communicating the most important points we’d like to make.  There is plenty of detail available on-demand for anyone who is interested in more information. However, this document aims to be accessible, easy to read, visual and a firm statement of our intent. 

In this post, I wanted to summarise a few of the things that make me take great pride in our work.

  • HABA is committed to sustainable, natural and responsible manufacturing. Also, HABA considers the whole lifecycle of all products to create beautiful, flexible learning environments for children. Products are made from the highest quality real wood veneer from genuine timber, certified according to the PEFC: the certification system for sustainable forest management.  PEFC focuses not only on sustainable forest management, like the more familiar (in the UK) FSC, but also on the processing of timber and so provides a more in-depth emphasis on the entire supply chain too.
  • HABA has signed up for a number of environmental frameworks that guide us as we reduce our impact on the environment. For instance, HABA was the first toymaker in Germany to pass the ecological audit and be granted ISO 14001 certification for environmental management.
  • HABA is not only an energy consumer but also its own energy supplier! In addition, HABA headquarters at Bad Rodach is rated in the top 20 most environmentally friendly and energy-efficient buildings in Germany (DGNB Gold Certificate) and certified ISO 50001 for energy management.

HABA’s Headquarters and Factory in Bad Rodach

The very first time we visited HABA’s Headquarters and Factory in Bad Rodach, Germany (more information in the sustainability report!) we were blown away by the attention given in all areas to making production as low impact on the environment as possible.  The efficiency of production and quality control is something I’d never seen before, after 15 years working in this field and visiting children’s furniture factories throughout the UK and Europe. 

The AAA grade beech and birch hardwood used in the furniture range is sourced from PEFC forests within 1 hour of the factory. HABA is an active and essential partner in maintaining these forests.  Production for furniture, wooden toys and board games is centralised at the Bad Rodach site. That means, that materials are used across these ranges with minimum waste across all areas of the business. Also, any wood material waste that is generated is then carefully gathered and used to heat the buildings, not in open furnaces but in amazing, state of the art energy efficient wood-burning systems.  This marriage of modern research and innovation together with natural materials is a hallmark of the brand, both in these processes and with the products themselves.

HABA produce in harmony with nature. HABA sustainable headquarters. HABA headquarters at Bad Rodach is rated in the top 20 most environmentally friendly and energy-efficient buildings in Germany that are DGNB Gold Certificate and certified ISO 50001 for energy management.
HABA produce in harmony with nature. HABA sustainable headquarters. HABA headquarters at Bad Rodach is rated in the top 20 most environmentally friendly and energy-efficient buildings in Germany that are DGNB Gold Certificate and certified ISO 50001 for energy management.

 

Thinking about plastic

We think that the kind of plastic and PVC play spaces and plastic furniture in classrooms that have for so long been a norm – something that generations have now grown up with – will very soon become obsolete.  We all need to change from a disposable culture to one that invests a little more in things that have a hugely less environmental impact and will last much longer. 

In a conversation in the office this week, one of my team likened the future of these plastic children’s spaces to how smoking is now completely unacceptable in so many spaces compared to quite recent history.  Or, to look at something even more specifically associated with children: how until quite recently, carcinogenic flame retardants were used in some children’s furniture and even children’s clothing and nightwear! 

These things happen for economic reasons, or because of a lack of research and understanding, or because they are easy until it becomes impossible because they are exposed, or the dangers are discovered through research or enough people are informed that whatever benefit (often a low cost) is simply unacceptable because of the wider impact.

HABA produce in harmony with nature. Sustainable production. HABA provide sustainable productions of each product. Wooden toys and furniture is made from real wood veener and sustainable raw materials.
HABA produce in harmony with nature. Creating Classrooms provide HABA sustainable furniture and play equipment in the UK. Sustainable production. HABA provide sustainable productions of each product. Wooden toys and furniture is made from real wood veener and sustainable raw materials.

 

To get back to our office chat: soon it will be unacceptable to make a plastic children’s space because it’s unsustainable and acts against the best interests of our planet and our future when we should all be thinking about sustainable, durable alternatives, not only in furniture and play equipment of course, but in energy supplies, transport, food production, and so on.  The way we have lived our lives for many years. 

Real wood from PEFC certified sources, linked to production that invests in and actively maintains biodiverse and sustainable forests, not only helps to create children’s spaces with a warm, healthy room climate – natural, ambient and sensorially pleasing – but promotes carbon capture and a better future world for our children.

Thinking about planting trees brings me to our own location at the Northumberland National Park Headquarters. 

Creating Classrooms’ location

We’ve grown our UK business here from the very beginning and feel very much part of the National Park Authority family in beautiful surroundings on the edge of the National Park.  

HABA produce in harmony with nature. Creatins Classrooms has the main office in Hexham. Hexham Enterprise Hub @ Eastburn is based in the attractive and tranquil grounds of Northumberland National Park Authority’s Hexham offices.
HABA produce in harmony with nature. Creatins Classrooms has the main office in Hexham. Hexham Enterprise Hub @ Eastburn is based in the attractive and tranquil grounds of Northumberland National Park Authority’s Hexham offices.

Northumberland National Park Authority has been at the forefront of a campaign that is rapidly gathering momentum, considering how to plant ‘the right tree in the right place’.  Simply planting lots of trees seems like the right thing to do, but it is not a sustainable strategy in itself. Unless we also think about how and where to plant these trees.  If these are simply fast-growing spruce, for example, then you quickly have forests as mono-crop plantations where pretty much all other biodiversity is lost on the forest floor, shaded as it is from the sun.  Planting trees in spaces unsuited to trees (moor/peat bogs, for example) can perversely increase carbon output! 

Biodiversity is essential for wildlife of all kinds and so our question is how can we, working in the UK, invest in further offsetting our own carbon footprint, while also considering and supporting the widest and most diverse planting and life for our planet?  We don’t have all the answers yet, but as humans, we need to be always searching and aspiring towards better solutions.

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