Just a few weeks past Christmas, landfills are probably filling up with plastic boxes, wrapping paper, containers and parts from discarded and forgotten toys.
Malini Goel doesn’t believe that will happen with her dolls, the Global Green Pals, designed with environmentally safe materials—along with a message.
“The whole idea is conveying a message to the next generation through play. If people can learn small messages at an early age, they can become the eco-ambassadors of tomorrow,” Goel says. “They can take little messages through play and internalize it.”
It’s no mistake that Goel developed a passion to protect the environment. After graduating from law school, the Munster native went to work for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Now living in New York City, Goel is an environmental consultant to the United Nations.
Because she had a love for dolls, she decided to pursue development of earth-friendly dolls with her business partner, longtime friend and Munster native Helena Brasovan Robertson.
“Malini and I have been friends since we were 4 years old. We lost touch for several years and then she and I bumped into each other at Midway Airport. We got together to catch up on our lives, and she discussed her vision and the work she had already begun on this business,” says Robertson.
“Malini created Restoration Gallery LLC in 2004, and I joined her in 2007 assisting her with market research and the business plan,” says Robertson, who lives in the south Chicago suburb of Orland Park, Ill.
“I have had a longtime interest and commitment to environmental issues. So when Malini talked with me about her new line of eco-friendly, educational toys I was immediately interested as a parent and as a consumer,” adds Robertson, who has two children.
It also helped that Robertson’s career includes doll development for the craft and hobby industry. “I believe Global Green Pals is a great fit for me to put my education and experience to practical use,” says Robertson, who holds an MBA.
Goel and Robertson have plans for as many as 25 dolls in the Global Green Pal line. Right now, the first five are Clean Air Kate, Carbon Offset Chet, Recycle Kyle, Pink Coral Laurel, and Pani Rani, which translates to water princess in India.
Each doll is 12 inches tall and made with 100 percent certified organic cotton. Each also comes with its own story.
For example, Carbon Offset Chet is a pilot from England who flies his solar-powered plane around the world and meets new eco-minded friends. Meanwhile, Pani Rani knows water is precious for all children around the world, and tries to conserve as much as possible.
“How cool that Recycle Kyle can inspire young kids about the importance of recycling and pitching in? My daughter loves Clean Air Kate from Chicago, because it’s cool to ride your bike and learn about the importance of planting trees,” Robertson says.
Global Green Pals were first rolled out at the New York Toy Fair in February 2009. The dolls are marketed to boys and girls 3 years and up.
Goel says while the dolls may not be as fancy as video games or a remote control car, their simplicity is what appeals to children most. “This starts a child’s imagination. The dolls are just simple, identifiable characters and sometimes simple is good,” Goel says. “These dolls will never go out of style.”
Clothing and accessories are made with organic, natural and tested fibers and low-impact dyes. Each doll is handmade in Sri Lanka. However, the dolls are warehoused, packaged and shipped from Opportunity Enterprises, a not-for-profit agency in Valparaiso that employs people with disabilities.
Choosing Opportunity Enterprises was an easy decision for Goel, whose father, Dr. Arun Goel, is a quadriplegic. As a way to honor her father, Goel says she plans to introduce a wheelchair-bound doll.
With the market growing for parents wanting to find environmentally friendly toys for their children, and with efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, Robertson says it’s the perfect time to get into the market and fill a void.
“We have a tremendous opportunity to reach our audience through partnering with specialty toy stores committed to bringing kids quality made educational toys. I am committed to our mission of bringing children eco-friendly, educational toys aimed to inspire kids toward positive environmental action in their local communities, schools, and homes,” Robertson says.
Goel says parents and teachers have really welcomed Global Green Pals, with the product line picking up a few awards along the way. To learn more about these green toys, visit http://www.globalgreenpals.com.