Putting rainbow glasses on: why I designed an ethical toy

In our worried world slowly acknowledging the horror of pollution and climate change, it feels important to find pockets of joy and hope. 

Particularly when surrounded by children.


Reading ever more-laden reports from the world’s scientists, we are confronted with escalating rise of temperatures, sea levels surging and dangerous weather events becoming more frequent. All this is leading to biodiversity loss and wildlife extinction. We all know that the consequences for humanity will be a shortage of resources, health threats, mass poverty and displacement.


This is a dark place to be, and most of us want to fight for a better future and take physical actions, such as changing our habits or protesting to make others, particularly those in positions of power, change theirs.


There is a long list of choices we can make to reduce our impact on the planet: choose a green energy supplier, reduce the use of unnecessary electronic equipment, bypass packaging and plastic products, recycle our waste, opt for ecological transport or reduce our travels, offset our carbon footprint by supporting ecological projects, encourage wildlife, shop locally or avoid eating meat and dairy products.

When having children, you want to pass on these values and can lead by example and walk or cycle to school, grow plants and do composting, reclaim resources to create DIY objects and toys, lend or exchange clothes, and buy ethical or second-hand toys.


That fight however might feel overwhelming, tiring, or even hopeless sometimes.

Therefore, next to those practical changes, there is something important to do as well: take care of our minds. I believe that one way is to cultivate pleasure, joy and playfulness in our daily life. We need joy, pleasure and fun to survive, fight, see the beauty surrounding us and be resilient. 


Lots of activists have that wisdom and cultivate this spirit to keep going and face challenges. Let’s get inspired by creative activists such as the Clown army, Fine Acts, or The Yes Men, who find energy and empowerment in using fun, creativity and play while fighting for their ideas.

« I have hope, in our fight for justice and freedom, I hope that we play and we see the joy and beauty of us playing together. That’s how we win » says activist Yana Buhrer Tavanier.


Working around play and creativity is a way of putting rainbow glasses on, and seeing the world from a positive angle.


That quest for cultivating joy in everyday life has definitively guided me to design playful resources. Seeing those resources being used, modified and seized by children warms my heart and fills it with hope. 


Happy Squares is a project which bridges ethical views and playfulness. So when I started, there were some goals I wanted to achieve. 

To start with, this new toy would need to be manufactured locally by people paid a fair wage. The fabrication process should be simple and not use many resources. 

Then, it would have to be made of a material which is enjoyable to touch, and sustainable at the same time. Finally, it would have to be affordable for many.

After one year of research and tests, trials and changes of directions, I came up with Happy Squares sets, made of recycled paper and cardboard.


I have seen this minimalist toy brings joy and pleasure to children, educators and families exploring space, at a light cost to the earth. A good start to feeling content and fulfilled. :)