We published our sustainability report for 2021/22! The report highlights how we try to limit our impact on the environment and produce in harmony with nature. 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 has always been at the forefront of innovation in sustainable manufacturing, with ethical and fully traceable supply chains. HABA is always looking for new ways to help protect the world’s limited resources with best practices.
We hope this sustainability report speaks volumes itself while also 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.
I wanted to summarise a few things that make me take great pride in our work in this post.
- 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. Which is also certified according to the PEFC. The PEFC is the certification system for sustainable forest management. It also focuses not only on sustainable forest management, like the more familiar (in the UK) FSC. The PEFC is also on the processing of timber. It provides a more in-depth emphasis on the entire supply chain too.
- HABA has signed up for several environmental frameworks. These frameworks 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! It has DGNB Gold Certificate and certificate 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, in 2021. We were blown away by the attention given in all areas to making production as low an impact on the environment as possible. More information is in the sustainability report! The efficiency of production and quality control is something I’d never seen before, even after 15 years of working in this field and visiting children’s furniture factories throughout the UK and Europe.
The AAA grade beech and birch hardwood 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. It means that materials are used across these ranges with minimum waste across all business areas. Also, any generated wood material waste 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, innovation, and natural materials is a brand’s hallmark both in these processes and the products themselves.
Thinking about plastic
We think that the kind of plastic and PVC play spaces and plastic furniture in classrooms has been a norm for so long. Something that generations have now grown up with will soon become obsolete. We all need to change! From a disposable culture to one that invests a little more in things with 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 relatively recent history. Or, to look at something even more associated explicitly 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 these things happen because they are easy until it becomes impossible, They are exposed, or the dangers are discovered through research or enough people are informed that whatever benefits. The benefit (often a low cost) is simply unacceptable because of the broader impact.
To get back to our office chat.
Soon it will be unacceptable to make a plastic children’s space. 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 furniture and play equipment, of course. But also in energy supplies, transport, food production, etc. 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. It not only helps to create children’s spaces with a warm, healthy room climate – natural, ambient and sensorially pleasing. But it also promotes carbon capture and a better future world for our children.
Thinking about planting trees brings me to our location at the Northumberland National Park Headquarters.
Creating Classrooms’ location
We’ve grown our UK business here from the very beginning. And we feel very much part of the National Park Authority family in beautiful surroundings on the edge of the National Park.
Northumberland National Park Authority
Has been at the forefront of a campaign that is rapidly gathering momentum. It considers 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, you quickly have forests as mono-crop plantations where all other biodiversity is lost on the forest floor, shaded from the sun. Planting trees in spaces unsuited to trees can perversely increase carbon output! Moor/peat bogs, for example.
Biodiversity is essential for wildlife of all kinds. So our question is how can we, working in the UK, invest in further offsetting our carbon footprint. While also considering and supporting the most comprehensive and most diverse planting and life for our planet? We don’t have all the answers yet, but we always need to search and aspire toward better solutions as humans.