Wooden Toys – News about our Fair Trade Wooden Toys

Our fair trade wooden toys are made in Sri Lanka, and like many countries they have been severely impacted by Coronavirus.

In terms of their response they reacted very quickly limiting their cases to 1300 cases and just 10 deaths. The country has now come out of lockdown but the shut down has left some significant supply issues.

Our wooden toys are completely handmade. They are made in Sri Lanka by a fair trade partner we were introduced to after their one and only UK customer decided they needed to specialise in fair trade food. Given the UK accounted for almost half their business this was devastating and the fair trade community reached out to us to see if we would step in and sell their wooden toys.
It was love at first sight. We thought their wooden toys were fabulous and their business, fair trade and handmade, was a perfect match for us.

The wood they use to make our wooden toys is from Albizia trees which are a by product of tea plantations, and are sourced from a tea plantation in northern Sri Lanka. Albizia trees are grown in the tea plantations to provide shade to the tea plants. They are a fast growing trees and grow up to 70 feet so after a couple of years they stop being a help to the tea plants and instead start taking the moisture the tea plants need from the soil. At this point they are chopped down and although not exactly waste they are a bit like Xmas trees in January, still useful but no longer used except as firewood.

Our lovely fair trade partner who makes our wooden toys buys this wood and upcycles it in to our fair trade wooden toys. The albizia wood is light in colour, soft and lightweight so perfect for making toys.

It arrives at our producer’s as unworked tree trunks and it is left for a couple of months to dry out before being cut in to 30mm wide planks.

Although Sri Lanka reacted quickly to the Coronavirus the lockdown obviously interrupted the supply chain. The whole population were put in to a very strict lockdown and all non-essential work came to a halt. This lockdown period came to an end on 11th May but it left a 3 month supply chain gap. The trees weren’t cut down, they weren’t shipped down to our producers and so the process will now need to start again. This means that we do have a short term problem with getting enough wood to make our toys.

To us this is a problem because it means we will run out of stock of most of our wooden toys, but to our fair trade partner it is a real issue. They have endured almost 3 months of not being able to produce any toys and they now face another 3 months while they wait for wood supplies to be available. There are very few companies with the resources to survive 6 months without being able to make or sell anything and a maker of fair trade toys is definitely not one of them!

We have spent a few weeks trying to work out how we can help. Before Lockdown we had just agreed a new range of toys to have in time for summer but these toys were also designed to made from 30mm wood.
They do not carry any stocks of toys which we could buy from as they make to order, but they did have some stocks of pre-cut wood. This wood was cut to 25mm rather than 30mm but we looked to see if we could make a limited addition range of toys from it. We are worked together to see what designs and shapes can be made from this slim line wood and the obvious answer was the rainbow. It symbolises hope and it encapsulates the spirit of these times. What better toy to make to help a valued partner through some tough times.

On a short term basis then we will run out of stock of our wooden toys, and our new range of wooden toys will also be delayed,but by September we will have good stocks again. And now we will also have limited edition wooden rainbows in an array of colours to celebrate the return of normality, whatever shape that is in.

Something positive to come out of these challenging times.

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