Searching for chemical free and eco-friendly toys

August 26th, 2010

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For the last several days I’ve been searching for soft baby blocks that are made of either BPA free plastic or fabric made in the USA. Do you know what an impossible task this is? IMPOSSIBLE. I searched for “made in USA toys” on Amazon and I get a few pages of results, but half of the “toys” are really just bottles or teethers, and the few toys they’ve listed we either have or something like it. I just want some lead free, BPA free blocks that a small baby can play with easily (and not wood). Is that asking too much?

During my search it came to my attention that several of the toys that were gifted to Elise are likely not BPA free, like her favorite monkey with a mirrored tummy. Crap. When I realized this, I decided to do a little more research to see which toys might be BPA free and discovered that Sassy brand toys actually has a BPA free listing of their toys. This got me thinking that all toy companies should have such a section on their site—assuming they have some BPA free toys in their collection, which frankly at this point in the game, everyone should. This is a hot concern for parents right now, so why are toy companies not looking into making their toys a) safer for kids b) eco-friendly?

Fisher-Price, Lamaze Toys, Skip Hop, Carter’s: I’m looking at you. Take all your creative toy and game ideas and start wrapping them in a layer of responsibility. When you do, do yourself and your customers a favor and let them sort your toys by categories that are of likely interest to them (eco-friendly, BPA free, lead free!). When you do, I’ll come back as a customer.

p.s. Even the blocks distributed by Parents Magazine don’t appear to be BPA free. This is the same magazine that often writes articles about how to keep your family safe from toxic chemicals.

This post is part of a month long blogging exercise inspired by Seth Godin.

Doing your customers a favor

August 25th, 2010

A few weeks ago I was heading out of the house with our five month old daughter, Elise. I wanted to take her out in her carrier rather than the stroller as I was running errands around town and it’s easier to get in and out of Brooklyn stores without a giant stroller in tow. I decided to see if Elise weighed enough now to sit in her carrier facing forward (there’s often a weight minimum for facing forward in many carriers), so I did a quick google search for “Cybex Carrier” only to find that the carrier we’ve been carrying our baby around in for the last five months had been recalled! Something to do with faulty buckles. Awesome!

I’m annoyed with Cybex for designing a faulty product, especially when it’s one that people are trusting to carry their baby around in—and let’s not forget Cybex had their share of recalls this year. However, I’m more annoyed with Giggle, the store where the carrier was purchased.

See, we didn’t just walk in and purchase the carrier one day with cash and leave no trace of the purchase—we registered for the item, so there’s a digital history of us receiving this carrier. Knowing that this item was purchased for us and knowing my email from initially registering at the store, why would Giggle not do their customers a favor and email them news about the recall? I wouldn’t blame Giggle for carrying the broken carrier, but I do blame them for not taking the extra step to send an email to customers who may have received this carrier. It would make me believe they truly have the best interest of their customers’ families in mind—specifically the babies for whom all their merchandise is intended. Trusting a brand would certainly encourage me to return to their store in the future.

Small actions can really make an impact on a brand—either negatively (in this case by ignoring this recall and not alerting customers) or positively (by letting your customers know about the hazard). Next time you’re equipped with the information to do your customers a favor, I’d suggest making the extra effort; when you do, you’ll find your customers will be more likely to return to you in the future.

This post is part of a month long blogging exercise inspired by Seth Godin.

An Exercise: Finding inspiration instead of it finding you

August 23rd, 2010

Seth Godin recently posted on his blog a great exercise for people looking to find inspiration:

“…start a blog and post once a day on how your favorite company can improve its products or its service. Do it every day for a month, one new, actionable idea each and every day. Within a few weeks, you’ll notice the change in the way you find, process and ship ideas.

I’m not currently looking for inspiration, but I think this is a great exercise for a UX designer. It offers designers a chance to look into the details of an experience and think about how it could be improved.

In two weeks I head back to work after a six month maternity leave. I’m excited to head back to work, but it’s been a few months since I’ve been in the weeds thinking about some of these things. So, for the new few weeks, I am going to give this exercise a try as a way of getting back into UX shape. Stay tuned!