We are really happy to see life happening in the Pepmelon house. We are proud that many people are interested in and contact us because of our different products, sustainability and environmentally friendly approach. We are very happy to do something for the environment.
LifeVERDE happy sustainability - green companies and actors
We are now featured on Lifeverde.de, on the german online green magazin and sustainability platform for green companies. They are helping to shape the green transition by making all green actors transparent and easy to find on the internet and bundling them via LifeVERDE. Beside our company profile we had an interview talking about our products, sustainability, utility and the link between developing creativity.
The interview in German is available on LifeVERDE Magazin, but it is now shared with you in all 7 languages here on our blog:
LifeVERDE: Eva, PepMelon started with creative craft kits. What do you focus on today and what do you stand for?
Eva: Indeed, the jumbo boxes were very popular. However, there were some conscious mothers and bloggers who gave us the feedback to go back to more sustainable craft kits. That's when we knew we were doing the right thing by following our hearts and focusing on eco-friendly products. And so the first sustainable creative craft set free of plastic products and plastic packaging, the Adventure Set, was born.
What has changed there in the PepMelon creative range in terms of sustainability and what else do you offer your customers?
Once the decision was made, the most important question was the raw material. Paper was an obvious choice but we didn't realise until then that even today it is difficult to find beautiful, high quality and colourful paper in different thicknesses that is recycled or free from chemicals and bleaches. Instead of little pompoms and other elements like foam rubber shapes, we had to come up with something different. We didn't want to settle for a half-hearted solution like wood. There are so many children's toys made of wood, which we so desperately need to stay in place, breathe and help our climate, whether at home on the street or in the Amazon forest. So we chose cork, made sure that the raw material is harvested from the cork oak tree without cutting down the tree. The cork oak can store a lot of carbon dioxide in its bark, which can be harvested again and again for up to 200 years without damaging the tree.
The properties of the raw material have led to obvious ideas like glass cork coasters and trivet cork coasters. And because we have a fantastic designer, we have come up with cute and humorous figurines to go with them, alongside sets with nature motifs. These cute animal coasters, with bears, llamas or puppies and kittens are also perfect gift ideas for families and children.
Tell us what you think the characteristics of a children's craft set should be in order to combine creative learning with fun.
It is very important that there are no forced tasks and that they are not monotonous. That's why we try to put different types of activities in the box. It should be a fun, playful activity for the child and last but not least, we emphasise that they can do this with figures, elements and 3D models that they have made themselves. In this way, the sets allow for joy in creation as well as satisfaction and pride when the set has been put together by the child himself - followed by playfulness with the final result. Meanwhile, in the background, the children's skills are developing. Not only fine motor skills, but also concentration, solution-oriented thinking, imagination and creativity are promoted by playing and crafting with our sets. And when several children work together on a task or a game, social skills, teamwork, task sharing and experiencing joint successes are also brought to the fore. By working with parents, they can spend quality time with their children and the children can feel the appreciation and support of their parents, which boosts self-confidence and self-esteem. At the same time, it is a positive family experience and a lasting memory.
From what age are the PepMelon craft sets suitable for children and how do they differ from your craft sets for adults?
Our craft kits are suitable for two age groups, 6-8 year olds and 9-12 year olds. For the first group, the focus is more on developing fine motor skills such as drawing lines, using scissors and developing manual skills themselves, while at the same time using colours and plays to tell their own stories and develop creativity and imagination.
For the older children, the emphasis will be further deepened to focus on the type of approach, the process of creating, following the steps, solution-based thinking and focusing. The focus should generally be on practising and mastering the emerging skills and abilities.
Our adult craft kits usually include a few ideas and the materials needed to make our DIY cork coaster set with string, for example. You can paint, stamp, embroider, glue, etc. These are more for making products for decoration anyway. However, the children need to be confronted with the tasks, shown the way and given the opportunity to follow the instructions independently to get to the destination shown, which they can then play with.
Finished crafting - and now? Can the end products also be useful in everyday life or are they rather dust collectors?
They should be useful, at least playful or even, in the case of the 3D car and robot, decoration on a desk or shelf. Building a dinosaur land can open up a whole world, there are no limits to the imagination. Children can play by telling different stories. But new activities can also follow as skills and play continue to develop. A good example is the craft activity "Reach the moon", where a flying rocket is made out of cork rockets and straws and they can race to see who can reach the moon first, where an astronaut is already present.
Cork numbers and dinosaur shapes or stars can be used to create interesting maths puzzles that children can solve with each other to challenge each other and increase competitive spirit while learning through play. We pack just a dozen ideas in the box to help children solve the more complex problems with video instructions. In the process, we can also help them learn to use the internet as a useful source of information with a purpose. However, the final decision is always theirs. The craft ideas and colourful papers are also available for them to put their own ideas into practice. Perhaps this is also the ultimate goal to be creative, which goes beyond the limits of our craft kits.
Take us along with you as you make your craft sets. What happens from the idea of a new set to sourcing the sustainable materials and developing the creative DIYs?
That would be a long story. I'll try to summarise it briefly: First, we choose 2-3 themes based on our ideas. For example, there was the space theme, dinosaurs, tigers, so a bit of jungle world and the technical car-robot line. We draw on these to find interesting ideas and, so there are exciting activities for all ages in the themes.
We then compile the tasks and the materials needed. Using this list, we can then start working on specific tasks and, for example, develop the first prototypes, plan the steps of origami folding for the instructions, record them on video, create graphics and check everything in various correction loops. On the other hand, the product is tested after the raw materials are purchased, then the design for the labels is made, which are then written with the obligatory and necessary texts already in several languages. Then the final product description is made, followed by the printing of all the instructions and the task sheets.
Finally, the product prototype is assembled, photographed and the photos are post-processed. Then the assembly of the other boxes, production optimisation and sales can begin. It's a long and tough job of the team, because so many things run in parallel, it requires a high level of coordination. I think that many people don't realise how much work goes into a product like this and often overestimate the price, but producing quality products from quality materials is simply not cheap.
Apart from the materials, what does PepMelon pay attention to in terms of sustainability in the production of its products and what would you like to get even better at?
For example, we are not satisfied with just recycled plastic packaging. Green washing is a big and critical issue these days, which we hope will soon be resolved so that the market only presents the truly green solutions. We truly believe that it is possible to live, do business and make a profit in a sustainable way so that we can enjoy many more years on this beautiful planet. That is why PepMelon takes sustainability seriously in all areas of production. To list just a few things:
- We use green energy for all our equipment in the manufacturing process and in our daily work. This green energy comes 100% from environmentally friendly energy sources, such as hydroelectric power, so we don't use finite energy sources like coal, gas or nuclear power.
- Of course, we selectively collect all waste generated during production.
- We recycle - one good thing about cork is that the leftover pieces can be used to make new products. But the same goes for paper waste. We pay a lot of attention to the distribution of raw materials between products to reduce the surplus and waste, so we can actually always use everything and there is no surplus.
- We use plastic-free packaging made of cellophane, which is not coated with plastic and is therefore biodegradable.
- We prefer packaging based on recycled paper, but also plant-based bioplastic bags for transport and packaging made of recycled paper (all other paper base materials are at least FSC-certified or labelled with other environmentally friendly certifications such as the EU Ecolabel and Blue Angel).
- Where possible, we use electric vehicles for our deliveries.
There is always room for improvement. We plan to work with other sustainable materials. These also require more flexible methods and a multi-layered manufacturing process. We are also constantly introducing and optimising new manufacturing technologies. So if the investment costs more overall, we can make the products more cost-effective over time. At the same time, we already have international distributor contacts and retailers who buy from us regularly, so we want to get more exposure on the wholesale line with our sustainable craft sets to make more eco-friendly play alternatives available to the general public.
One last question: Why are you convinced that creative handicrafts are better for developing skills than, for example, playful apps on iPhones, tablets and the like?
That's an interesting question, to which everyone probably wants to know the exact answer. I wouldn't say that children can't benefit from the digital toy world. There are also apps specifically designed for skill development, and I myself have been involved in creating such apps in the past as a project manager. However, it is very important for children's development that they develop the basic skills and competencies in the real world that they can draw on in the digital world and use as adults.
To give an example: The best programmers are not known for their deep knowledge of programming languages, but for their imagination, their solution-oriented thinking, their ability to see projects through, structure them, break them down and see them through to completion and creation. All these skills can be freely developed and acquired in the real world, in the children's years.
Most important are the freedoms of playful development. One can play with a game as one wishes, not as the programmer has prescribed, constrained by a framework. While the programming language and frameworks are available to all, with documentation and examples, so the knowledge is there, the skills needed to use all these resources properly will only be present in those who have used these stages of development consciously or unconsciously, playfully at a young age.
This is also true for all other professions, those who can assert themselves in life have the best skills. Thus, such activities provide the opportunity for children's future to unfold. The toys on the equipment do not represent 3D models that you can hold in your hands, look into each part, move them, turn them and thus perceive the connections and understand how they work.
We need to develop our imagination, with stories, not just from books, but from our own minds. Screens do not develop this ability, because a designer has already visualised what we need. And yet it is this ability that will later enable us to visualise intangible things that we only hear or read about. This is how we can turn ideas into complex projects, real business plans, companies or even products, because we can see them in all their details in front of us. This is exactly how we envisioned the now popular Adventure Creative Hobby Kit. I believe that creative crafting contributes to our ability to make our ideas, plans and desires tangible and real. Everyone can live a happy life if they are able to realise and create, and that, like everything else, starts in childhood.