The business began in Peter Ireland’s garden shed in Kent, England in 1985. Peter hand crafted wooden jigsaws which he and wife Liz sold at craft fairs all over the UK. Liz and Peter were both teachers by profession and so have always had child development and education at the heart of what they do.
Keeping it in the family
The business has grown enormously since then but remains family run, with Liz and Peter’s two sons, Sam and Tom, also becoming Directors in 2017. Grandchildren Arthur and Edith even get involved with testing the toys! It really is a family affair.
It just keeps on growing
The company operates from a large warehouse in Folkestone, Kent and distributes toys worldwide to 93 countries. We currently employ 39 people in the UK and continue to go from strength to strength.
Our mission: To deliver quality, safe and affordable products which are responsibly sourced and complement childhood development through fun, exploration and learning.
Our ethical responsibility
We work closely with a number of production facilities in the Far East who are regularly visited by our Managing Director Liz. Liz takes great care to ensure that the facilities are operating ethically and are committed to the quality that we expect.
Right from the source:
Our directors visit the sites where our wood is sourced to ensure environmental criteria are being met. The majority of our products are manufactured using Rubberwood. Rubberwood is a byproduct of the latex production process. Rather than the wood being discarded at the end of its useful life, it is harvested from replenishable forests and used in our toy production. It is a solid hardwood, perfect for producing quality, hard wearing toys.
Safe, quality toys
Independent safety testing:
Each toy in our range has been safety tested by an independent lab to ensure that it meets the standards required to be sold in Europe (EN71 regulations) and/or North America (ASTM regulations). This testing process includes rigorous durability testing, chemical and paint analysis and consideration for age appropriate guidelines.
Learning through play:
Our toys are designed at our HQ in Folkestone by our creative team. Each product is designed to encourage key skills and is graded according to age appropriate guidelines. We firmly believe in the importance of learning through play and our products support some aspect of child development. From rhythm to number recognition, from manual dexterity to gross motor skills, we love to encourage children to play, explore and learn.
Child friendly paints, stains & lacquers:
Young children often explore textures with their mouths. During this stage, you need to be sure that no damaging chemicals will be ingested from the surface of the toy. You can be assured that all of our products use child friendly paints, stains and lacquers and pass stringent safety testing guidelines regarding surface coverings.
Here at Bigjigs Toys we are serious about product safety testing and play value, which is why our products exceed the EN71 toy safety testing standard and are only ever coloured using child-safe paints. Bigjigs Toys products are lovingly designed in Britain by our designers who work hard to include as much play and educational value in each and every toy as possible.
We’ve always taken care to make sure our products are responsibly sourced, and our Director, Liz, often visits the factories where our toys are produced to ensure all acceptable standards are being upheld.
We’ve made some big changes in the last few years, and now over 80% of the Bigjigs range is packaged in packaging that is made from 90% recycled materials, and printed with soy inks. When choosing wood for our products we carefully assess the quality and durability to guarantee many years of play. A lot of our products are made from sustainably sourced rubberwood. Rubberwood is a byproduct of latex production and recycling this wood means we're helping reduce waste.
When it comes to designing our products, our designers think outside the box to reduce plastic parts and components. We want our toys to stand the test of time, and manufacturing from wood gives the next generation the full value of a wonderful resource.
Throughout our day to day operations the team make efforts to reduce our impact; we reuse boxes or buy recycled cardboard to send out orders. You won’t find any polythene in our parcels, in fact, when you receive an order from us, all of the packaging can go in your recycling.
Everyone in our office and warehouse works responsibly to make sure waste is minimal; and our appointed waste management team, Biffa, work with us to have our recycling picked up weekly. We work digitally where possible and 99% of our invoices and statements are emailed, paper is only ever used when a customer is unable to accept emails.
Within our office we’ve done a lot to reduce our electrical use. All of our staff computers have power-saving features meaning when they’re not being used, they’re automatically switched off. We use LED lighting throughout our warehouse, offices and showroom areas. LED lights use up to 90% less power than incandescent bulbs.
All of our electricity is produced via the 216 solar panels on our roof. The roofs on the Bigjigs warehouse has the perfect tilt and aspect for generating solar energy . We harvest more energy than we use and the extra energy is returned to the national grid.
We’ve even thought about the small things… Any batteries used by staff are recycled, all our printer toner and cartridges are recycled and our staff use towels and air dryers in the bathroom to avoid overuse of paper towels.
We’re always looking for more ways to reduce our impact and work more sustainably.