“I hope you step on a LEGO!” A phrase usually said in anger, and an action that many folks have fallen victim to at least once in their lifetime.
While stepping on these tiny, plastic bricks can be quite an unpleasant experience, the toy has been bringing joy to millions of children around the world since 1932. LEGOs offer unlimited potential by serving as a vessel for kids to learn, build, and create, stimulating fine motor functions and inspiring cognitive development. All-in-all, LEGOs have proven themselves a worthy addition to any childhood, despite the one pain-point they may present for parents everywhere.
Alas, children grow up and lose interest in their toys, and LEGO has introduced a pilot program designed to breathe new life into the unused bricks that are taking up space in your closets, forgotten toy boxes, and littering your floors like the miniature landmines they are. This project, LEGO Replay, is designed to accept any and all used LEGO bricks and donate them to children’s nonprofit organizations all over the United States. What’s more, LEGO has made great efforts to ensure simplicity in the process to donate, in hopes of generating as much interest in the campaign as possible. To participate, you need only to gather up your loose LEGO pieces (complete sets or otherwise), toss them into a cardboard box, and print off a free shipping label as provided on the LEGO Replay website. You can even arrange with UPS or FedEx to come pick up the package from your home, saving you a trip and any hassle!
Now, where exactly are your used LEGOs shipping to, you ask? Well, LEGO has teamed up with Give Back Box, Teach For America, and Boys and Girls Club of Boston to facilitate this endeavor, and all used LEGOs make their first stop at the Give Back Box location. When they arrive, pieces will be sorted, inspected for integrity (no one wants a brick that has been used as a puppy chew toy), and expertly cleaned (because germs, duh) before being repackaged and sent off to centers and organizations where a whole new generation of children will have the opportunity to use them, learn from them, and explore their imaginations because of them.
According to the VP of Environmental Responsibility at LEGO Group, Tim Brooks, most people don’t throw out their used LEGO bricks, instead electing to pass them onto their kids and grandkids. However, many people over the years have reached out to LEGO Group “ask[ing] for a safe way to dispose of or to donate their bricks,” says Brooks. “With Replay, they have an easy option that’s both sustainable and socially impactful.”
To ensure the LEGO Replay program met and exceeded the standards for quality and safety, Brooks and his team spent the past three years developing processes and implementing procedures for the project that would ensure every “i” was dotted and every “t” was crossed. And once they teamed up with Give Back Box, a charity with a mission to “recycle” 11 million tons of unused textiles that find their way into U.S. landfills every year, Replay was a Go!
“I am excited to join the LEGO Group in this pilot program,” said Monika Wiela, founder of Give Back Box. “Growing up in Poland, I didn’t have many toys as a child, so this collaboration is rather personal for me. What’s better than giving a child the gift of play?”
Much of the donations from LEGO Replay will be donated to Teach For America, who will disperse the toys to thousands of classrooms all over the United States. Further, Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston will begin receiving shipments of LEGO bricks sometime in November 2019, as well. As soon as the pilot is complete in spring 2020, LEGO Group hopes to expand the program to include many more organizations, and reach thousands more kids in the process.
“Learning through play can have a tremendous impact on a child’s cognitive development,” said Susan Asiyanbi, Chief Operating and Program Officer for Teach For America. “Through play, children develop fine motor skills, think creatively, and can learn how to problem solve through teamwork. But not everyone has access to such resources. LEGO Replay, and the instructional resources they provide educators, will help give more students access to this opportunity.”
Other notable and sustainable philanthropic efforts put forth by LEGO Group recently also include Plants from Plants, LEGO Braille Bricks, and LEGO Audio and Braille Instructions.