carbon footprint

The carbon footprint of Legos


An odd time to think about the carbon footprint of Legos

The opportunity to think about being green can come at the strangest times. I work with Young Engineer teaching basic engineering and physics to elementary school students. Science can be difficult to grasp in the typical classroom format. So, Amir Asol, based in Israel, came up with the brilliant idea to use Legos to allow the children to learn science and engineering principles “hands on” in the content of playing.

My two young students were working on building their model of a rotating carousel. I considered the carbon footprint of the Legos. The Legos are comprised of engineered plastic, more specifically, Acrylic Butadiene Styrene, (ABS), which is used in automobiles.

After thinking about the question

Even if a product is environmentally damaging, Legos are used in small enough quantities that we shouldn’t focus on trying to reduce its consumption. The popular children’s toys are made from Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, an oil based product. The electricity used in manufacturing process contributes to problems as air pollution and global warming. There is also a risk the blocks could end up in landfills. However, when I considered how little material goes into the average set and the likelihood the Legos will be passed to younger children, I am not sure we need not to worry about destroying the environment with a twenty-dollar purchase of Legos.

Why not ask

Eliminating children from playing Lego’s will not reduce the effects of climate change by itself.  Why can’t we begin to introduce these questions to our younger students who will become the scientists and engineers of the future?