Here's How a Milk Jug Becomes a Toy Truck

This truck used to be a milk jug (technically, approximately seven milk jugs). A few months ago, before the toy arrived on a playroom floor in a home in Oakland, California, neighbors not far away put plastic milk jugs out at the curb and a local recycling company picked them up and broke them down, and then processed them into clean, fresh plastic. Just miles away from Oakland, we took the recycled material and manufactured the truck, along with 50 other kinds of toys. It’s a truly local design. This is the story of how we made it happen.

The concept behind our company, Green Toys, began when I teamed up with Laurie Hyman, my business partner and former USC classmate. In true entrepreneur style, we began the company in Laurie’s garage and never looked back.

In the beginning, we quickly learned that virtually every toymaker manufactured in China because of the abundance of factories and low labor costs. In our case, the vision for Green Toys was based upon an ability to manufacture high-quality, innovative products in the United States. Fortunately, being in California was ideal and we quickly found a suitable partner to fit our needs. We believe in home-grown innovation and supporting all things local by manufacturing in the United States, and were able to not only ensure a higher standard of safety and quality, but also help mother nature by diverting containers from the landfills and recycling them into something new.

With the vision to deliver a quality, safe children's product line, we wanted to be in a position to control production and ensure our products were manufactured with the highest quality standards. Our manufacturing partner had to have a stellar reputation, understand our mission, and be located within driving distance of our Northern California office. The plan was to create the manufacturing process from scratch—the raw material had never been used in this way before and certainly not by any other domestic toy company. Being close to the material source was particularly important for us, and so the recycled plastic resin comes from recycling facilities in California.

Additionally, a key focus for our operations is to deliver real savings on the energy front while helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This requires a very tight local supply chain, for which we have invested heavily.

Everything we do at Green Toys, from our eco-friendly raw materials to our California-based manufacturing processes, is essentially geared towards one purpose: making products that are good for the earth and safe for kids. We live and breathe sustainability in many ways, but it all comes back to authentically “green” materials and a local supply chain.

Today, we are proud to say that all phases of production, including toy design, manufacturing, assembly, and distribution are completed right outside of San Francisco. Our products are sold in more than 75 countries and our "Made in the USA" brand is now synonymous with quality, safety, and environmental responsibility. Ultimately, it is our goal to replicate our proven model across the globe and manufacture using locally-sourced recycled materials for the local market.

Image courtesy of Green Toys

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