If you've got young children, they may have received a number of stuffed animals over the holidays. And you may or may not have given any thought to the lifecycle of these toys yet, but, by and large, they tend to end up in a basement or closet... if not in a landfill. A team of mechanical engineering students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute decided to take on the challenge of the "cradle-to-grave" teddy bear... and ended up winning the 2009 Manufacturing Student Design Competition in the process.
Their prize-winning innovation? The Sustain-a-Bear, which, according to RPI, "...[infuses] a new, green consciousness into every stage of the teddy bear production timeline, from sourcing raw materials to manufacturing, use, and disposal." Among the green features:
- The Sustain-a-Bear is made completely out of recycled PET plastic... from the outer shell to the stuffing. This makes the toy completely recyclable: "...at the end of its days can be tossed in the recycling bin and easily find a second life as brand-new bear (or maybe a soda bottle)."
- The manufacturing process involves no thread or glue; rather, the pieces of the bear are put together with ultrasonic welding. The student team claims the manufacturing process uses 90% less energy compared to making a similarly-sized stitched bear. The process also "requires little water."
Of course, most kids probably aren't thinking about lifecycles, either, so the designers also considered aesthetic appeal (OK, cuteness) as the took the design through a number of iterations.
The judges at the Manufacturing Student Design Competition thought the concept was a winner... what do you think? Don't get your credit card out yet, though... it's still a concept at this point.
via Design Training
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog (which now generates its revenue primarily through eco-friendly products... including eco-toys). You can follow him on Twitter @sustainablog
Image credit: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute