Eco-Friendly Building Blocks


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Every month, a friend and I take our little budding brickmasters to the Lego store for their free mini-build. It’s always something adorable, take a few minutes to do, and we drop some cash on new mini-figs or a themed Lego-set before we leave.

As per usual, the Cupcake dutifully made the monthly character to add to her dust trap collection of “never take apart” and then we squished and prodded nearly every surprise pack to find the veterinarian and the French baguette guy minifigs before we set out to explore the mall, also per usual. I’ve accepted this as my monthly penance as I refuse to set foot in Stonebriar on the weekends. Refuse. This is her one opportunity to get what she wants from me.

As we wandered through the brightly lit hallways and the sea of kiosks, our girls were gravitationally attracted to a booth of what looked like wooden Legos – but of course not, because Lego’s are plastic. Every mom who steps on them in the middle of the night knows EXACTLY how plastic those corners are.

Both girls (age 9 and 11) plopped themselves down in the play stations and started free building with these smooth wooden blocks. There were markers on the table to encourage them to draw ON the wood to customize their creations and leave their mark for the next wave of builders. (I later learned that with washable markers and a Magic eraser, you can remove the ink.)

The girls were enchanted by these all brown, smooth wooden blocks from Dallas company, Once Kids. After chatting with the owner (yep, he’s using the kiosk to get to know his customers), I learned that ONCE stands for Organic, Natural, Charitable and Eco-Friendly. So let’s break that down, shall we?

These blocks were developed with the environment in mind, first and foremost. Once Kids products – currently blocks, superheroes, cityscapes and vehicles – are all made from renewable, eco-friendly wood and are biodegradable. Because each year 8 million metric tons of plastic are dumped in the world’s oceans, the Once Kids company donates 1% of retail sales directly to the Ocean Conservancy to impact the Trash for Seas Program. I like that.

These heirloom-quality toys are handcrafted and packaged in laser-engraved wooden boxes, many of which have chalkboard paint interiors. I like that too.

More than like, I love that the superhero we brought home, Birch, has eye-holes to see out when she’s up on the shelf. The Cupcake really likes that.

The peg people paired with the autos, and the block city collections have just enough detail to nudge kids in the direction of a play theme, but the neutral blocks invite endless opportunity to build and create.

Hands down, the Cupcake loves these. It might be how they feel, it might be that they have no color, (Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on a few to see how good they would look with glitter or chalk paint, but that’s me…) it might be that she says they’re easier to put together and take apart than the traditional Legos.

Are you ready for the really cool part? The Once Kids blocks are compatible with all the traditional sized “plastic brands” of building blocks that you already have. Funny, we have bins of those that she doesn’t play with them, but these have gotten all the love since we brought them home — and she has a list for what we’re buying next week.

You can find Once Kids in the hallway at Stonebriar Centre for now, or at Neimans, Amazon and of course, the Once Kids website. Hint: The Stonebriar kiosk has bonus pricing when you buy multiple sets.

Go check it out and let me know what your kids think. (Images below are linked to Amazon in case you too, don’t set into the mall except on mini-build day.)


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