Soft play and sensory equipment by Lifetime Education, what are our green credentials?

We’re a small UK design and manufacturing firm… what can we do to reduce our impact on the environment? The biggest impact we reckon we can have is by ensuring that we minimise the miles travelled by the various components we buy to put in our products.

  • 100% of the foam we use is CFC free, made in the UK and the majority is made just 40 miles from our base.
  • 100% of the coated fabric we buy (PVC and PU Eco-Play) is coated in the UK no more than 100 miles from our base. The cottons, nylons and polyesters used underneath the coatings are imported by the coating companies and not by us, some are woven in the UK.

Why don’t we use natural uncoated fabrics? We would if we could but fire safety requirements mean that we have to supply fire retardant coverings, for example the room divider screens must meet, (among other standards), BS5867 British Standard Curtain and Drape fire standards. BS7176 Contract Furnishing fire standards and other fire and furnishing standards apply to our other products. The bottom line is that this rules out the use of natural jute or hessian to make our screens, or simple unlined cotton covers for our soft play. We do keep our eyes open for new fabrics, if you want us to use something special please let us know.

The best thing about coated waterproof fabrics is? The best thing about coated waterproof fabrics is that for childcare settings they are more practical, safer, and more hygienic than uncoated fabrics, the greatest benefits being longevity, the fact that they wipe clean and don’t absorb water, a carrier of germs. The longevity of a coated fabric means that we make something that lasts, a good deal for both you and the environment. (We reckon that one of our Playrings used in a “Direct.Gov” TV advert in January 2010 was 7 or more years old… it was still good enough to appear on TV!)

PRINTING INKS AND LACQUERS: The inks we use are of the latest eco-solvent formulations and sourced within the UK. The water based lacquers are not available from UK manufacturers and come via a master distributor who ships in bulk from the USA.

We designed the tube and fittings used in our room divider screens ourselves: which means we are able to ensure the plastics used are all made in the UK and within 60 miles of our base. Unfortunately the mirror plastics are not available from a UK manufacturer so even though we buy them from a supplier less than 20 miles away these are ultimately come from continental europe. The hook and loop fastener and some of the small accessories we use originate from the far east however the most popular accessory, the Playring bell, is still made in the UK in the West Midlands.

Packaging: Our cardboard boxes are made locally to us and recycle. The bubble wrap is by volume the most efficient packaging we can buy and it can be re-used by you. We would prefer it if it was available in a bio-degradable quality. We re-use incoming packaging wherever possible.

Marketing and office waste: for us this boils down to minimising paper waste… we use email whenever we can and do not print a catalogue (we rely solely on the web). We recycle waste paper or card.

Staff: we don’t have a formal policy but it works out that we all live close to where we work and only those of us who really need a car to get us to work, or need one at work, use one… which in % terms means that 50% walk or cycle.

If you think there is a glaring issue we have not addressed and could address, or if there is a fabric or material that you would prefer to see us use please let us know… we will be seriously interested.
Lifetime Education 01777 869044 or email
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