It all started with a massive clean out of toys from the basement. “We’d heard on the news that lead paint had been detected in all Thomas the Tank Engine toys,” says Jim Barber, co-founder of Luke’s Toy Factory. “My son, Luke, was a huge fan of Thomas so he had a hard time letting them go.” Barber also noticed that every toy he picked up was made in China, “That day, I knew there had to be a better way to make healthy toys that are made in America,” Barber says.
Today, Sandy Hook residents Jim Barber and his son Luke are gearing up to launch their own line of non-toxic toys made from a mixture of plastic composite and saw dust from furniture manufacturing, eliminating the need for paint and making them a more sustainable option.
A corporate photographer by trade, Barber says, “It was tough to find injection molding companies that would take us seriously enough to work with us.” “We had to search high and low for American based companies that were innovative enough to give a new material a try.”
But they succeeded – and have been instrumental in bringing consciousness to companies who previously hadn’t considered sustainability. “The companies we are working with value innovation and understand that sustainability is where business must go,” Barber says. Along the way, Luke’s Toy Factory is creating a sustainable manufacturing eco-system that will keep jobs local and money flowing back into the community. “There’s a perception out there that large corporations are only in it for the money and they don’t care about the environment, but there are people working in these companies who do,” Barber says. And we’ve been lucky enough to find them.
Following a successful KickStarter campaign, Luke’s Toy Factory will begin production of its first line of toys this summer. You can pre-order a fire truck on their website.