Legos were invented 21 years before the first Earth Day in 1970. This year — 65 years after the Danish company started manufacturing bricks — has been a prominent one for the toymaker with the release of their feature film, a commercial and critical success. Part of the lore of Legos is that they are more than just toys; they represent the creative potential in all of us to impact our surroundings. For Earth Day, Lego is playing on this theme and running the entire Legoland Florida theme park on renewable energy for the day, a first for a U.S. theme park according to the company.
Legoland will also permanently power the park’s Imagination Zone on renewable energy, with a 30-kilowatt solar panel already installed on the venue. In the summer an interactive area with mini model communities running on renewable energy will be set up for visitors to explore. There may even be solar panel bricks.
Legoland Florida, which opened in 2011, avoided adding 18,000 tons of concrete to landfills by crushing existing sidewalk and foundation on the 150-acre site and re-using the material as a base layer for the new sidewalks. The theme park also saved over 660 oak and palm trees by relocating them during construction and then planting them back on the grounds once renovation was complete.
Legoland is just the most prominent element of a company that has a presence inside the confines of many people’s homes. According to Lego’s senior director of environmental sustainability Tim Brooks, there are more than 90 Lego bricks for every person on the planet. Because of this far reach and plastics-heavy business model, Lego feels it can add the most to the environmental conversation by focusing on eco-design principles in the manufacturing process and pursuing zero waste ambitions. The raw materials Lego uses for its bricks represent 30 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions and it is looking to implement lower-carbon alternatives in the next decade or so.
“One of the challenges for our designers is that they have lots of other constraints,” Brooks told the Guardian recently. “Do children want to play with the toys? Is it fun? Does it come in the right colors? Have we got the right number of pieces at the right price point in the right-sized box? We try to keep it as simple as possible … it’s about giving them the best available materials and have them do the best they can with them.”
And Earth Day is a reminder that the world future generations inherit will be all they have to work with.