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GLRPPR Sector Resource: Green Toys Inc. Striving to Make Sustainable Products: Case Study

Green Toys Inc. Striving to Make Sustainable Products: Case Study

A Google search of "green products" leads to 170,000,000 results. A search of "sustainable products" leads to 8,570,000 results. With increased consumer interest in greener, safer, and healthier products, many new programs have been launched to identify and promote preferred products. There are more than 300 ecolabels worldwide. Much of this information is useful but may be incomplete and some may be deliberate greenwashing. In this increasingly complex and sometimes contradictory environment, the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production determined it was important to create a definition and framework for a sustainable product. We deliberately chose the word "sustainable" to indicate that this definition goes beyond "green" attributes and also considers social impacts and benefits of products. As described in the 2009 report A New Way of Thinking: The Lowell Center Framework for Sustainable Products, a "sustainable product minimizes environmental and social costs throughout the product lifecycle and aims to maximize environmental and social benefits to communities, while remaining economically viable." This framework is designed to help businesses evaluate the environmental, social, and economic impacts of existing products and to design new products that minimize these impacts. Companies can evaluate whether their products are sustainable by asking the following five questions and examining criteria that define each element. This case study of Green Toys Inc. applies this broad framework to demonstrate the use and value of this tool. Whether a company is just beginning or is well on its way in developing greener, safer, and healthier products, the Lowell Center Framework for Sustainable Products can be helpful in evaluating whether a holistic approach is being implemented. Although some may see the Framework as visionary and therefore unachievable, this case study demonstrates that a company can meet many of these criteria and be successful economically. Innovative companies that design and make products with sustainability in mind are part of a new wave of business that is emblematic of a "restorative economy," where industry plays a significant role in supporting community sustainability by simultaneously reducing its impact on the environment and providing community benefits.


Lowell Center for Sustainable Production

Resource Type:
Case study/success story

Date of Publication:
September 2010

Associated Sectors:

GLRPPR is a member of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange, a national network of regional information centers: NEWMOA (Northeast), WRRC (Southeast), GLRPPR (Great Lakes), ZeroWasteNet (Southwest), P2RIC (Plains), Peaks to Prairies (Mountain), WSPPN (Pacific Southwest), PPRC (Northwest).


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