Everyone knows how important it is to recycle as much as possible.
Here at Production Case, we’re always on the lookout for more ways to green our business.
When we make custom case inserts to cushion our clients’ cameras and other sensitive gear, there’s often foam left over.
If it’s dust or shavings, we can have our recycling company pick it up. But what if it’s a larger piece, that’s too small to start a new case lining with, but not quite small enough to just recycle?
Wherever possible, we try to find another use for them. Thanks to a local teacher, some of our foam off-cuts got a new lease on life as building blocks for a local preschool.
Production Case donated about 40 blocks, about the size of yoga bricks, to Heatherington Nursery School.
“The first day I brought the blocks out, the kids were just over the moon,” says Registered Early Childhood Educator Irish O’Brien. “It was such a wonderful donation and we feel so fortunate to have these.”
O’Brien explains why it isn’t always easy to find suitable toys for the school. “These blocks are made from a very dense foam, and they tend to stick together when stacked,” she says. “They’ve also passed all of our health and safety requirements. For example, if they fall over, they won’t hurt the child, and the kids can’t bite off small pieces and choke. Normally something like this would be too expensive for us to buy.”
The children at the school are finding all sorts of ways to play with the blocks. They’re stacking them to make walls, building enclosures for “farm animals”, creating offices with desks, even making beds to lie on.
“The children have been wonderfully creative with the blocks so we’re very grateful,” enthuses O’Brien.
Learning Through Play
While the blocks may have resulted in plenty of fun and games, there’s a lot of learning going on too.
“Learning through play is an essential part of our program,” says O’Brien. “The blocks help us augment what we’re already doing.”
Heatherington Nursery School is part of the Ottawa Carleton Head Start Association for Preschools. This program is a non-profit that helps kids from disadvantaged backgrounds get ready for grade school.
Some kids come from families struggling with low socioeconomic conditions, other kids may have language or other learning disabilities. Children from ages two and a half to five years old can attend.
There are all kinds of age-appropriate educational activities designed to help the kids grow cognitively, socially, and emotionally in a positive environment. There is a lot of imaginative play and encouragement in the development of healthy habits.
“They’re able to extend their play through adding things like the blocks. When play uses all of a child’s imagination, it can help them extend their learning.”
Finding a New Way to Connect to the Community
The opportunity to help out the nursery school came out of a chance meeting.
Lewis, a Production Case employee, takes up the story. “Irish and I ended up sitting across the table from each other at a social event. She asked where I worked and we talked a bit about cases and foam. She wondered if we ever had any unusable bits that could be turned into preschool toys. It was a serendipitous moment, for sure.”
When Lewis passed on the request to the rest of the Production Case team, they jumped at the chance to help the kids. With a bit of time, the foam off-cuts were trimmed down to a uniform 10” x 6” x 3” size, with a nice bevel on the edges.
“Production Case Company has always been really scrupulous about recycling and reducing the amount of waste we produce,” says Jim Cavill, Web Sales Rep. “So when we were able to donate some unusable off-cuts, we jumped at the opportunity. It feels great knowing that this foam is going to get a second life helping kids learn and have fun.”
Note: while we don’t always have foam pieces like the ones described above in our shop, we would be happy to put suitable charities on a waiting list for donations. We’re sorry, smaller foam pieces are not suitable for use with children or animals due to the risk of choking.