Approximately 80% of all toys end up in landfills, incinerators, or the ocean. The remnants of these toys in the environment outlast  the lifespan of the child that first played with them. Through first-hand experimentation with biodegradability and thorough research, I  developed Play & Plant, a children’s toy that aims to educate children on sustainability and reduce toy waste. 
Design Concept
Approximately 80% of all toys end up in landfills, incinerators, or the ocean. The remnants of these toys in the environment outlast  the lifespan of the child that first played with them. Through first-hand experimentation with biodegradability and thorough research, I  developed Play & Plant, a children’s toy that aims to educate children on sustainability and reduce toy waste.  
ASU’s ongoing collaborative research on Circular Economy in the Chemical and Materials Industry inspired the development of  this concept. One of the collaborators, Bhavik Bakshi, from Ohio State University, contributed to the journal Sustainable product  design: A life-cycle approach (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ces.2020.115508) along with Xiang Zhang, Lei Zhang, Ka Yip Fung, and Ka  
Ming Ng. The journal discusses how product design can reduce the impact on hotspots discovered in the product’s life cycle using  knowledge-based solutions and heuristics. One of the proposed design solutions to improve product disposal was the use of  biodegradable materials. From this insight, I developed the concept of a children’s toy with a biodegradable component. I conducted  a 60-day research experiment where I planted chia seeds in two different weights of hemp fabric, along with a control, in 3 different  environments; outdoors, indoors in direct sunlight, and indoors without sunlight. I recorded the degradation of the material and the  growth of the plants. The findings from my research confirmed feasibility as all of the pouches exposed to sunlight began degrading  and had successfully sprouted chia plants to maturity. After some concept refinement, Play & Plant was created.  
Play & Plant is a toy that transforms as the child ages. In the early years of the child’s life, the toy will serve as a pretend play toy where  the child plants soft toys into a planter through a piece of fabric that acts as soil. The soft toys are constructed with 100% hemp textile  and stuffed with hemp offcuts and chia seeds. When the child grows up, they can disassemble the “soil” and plant the actual soft toys  in their planter. After 15-30 days, the soft toys will biodegrade, and the seeds inside will sprout. After the plant cycle is complete, the  planter can be reused. In addition to reducing waste, this toy teaches children about biodegradability and gardening through hands on learning. Children exposed to sustainable practices at a young age take those lessons into adulthood.​​​​​​​
Designer
Gabi Peters, gapeter4@asu.edu
Research
Circular Economy in the Chemical and Materials Industry
https://sustainability-innovation.asu.edu/kaiteki/research/circular-economy-in-the-chemical-industry/
The Global Kaiteki Center at Arizona State University, Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service (ASU), The Sustainability Consortium (ASU), Luminosity Lab (ASU), The Ohio  State University (OSU) 

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