Xylophone made from plywood

Eco, green, sustainable, are all buzz-words of the moment and for good reasons.  The press seems to to be full of horror stories about plastic although many toys are still made of the stuff, of course.

Plywood has been around for over 4000 years – the ancient Egyptians used it – and there is a fascinating short article about it on the Victoria & Albert Museum website.  It became widespread in the industrial era due to it’s strength, mould-ability and cost, and it has been used to make everything from aeroplanes to xylophones.  And used in many toys.

Xylophone made from plywood
Xylophone made from plywood
Aeroplane made from plywood
Aeroplane made from plywood

Birch plywood used in the UK generally comes from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests in eastern Europe but there are apparently still some issues about other sources, and this situation is changeable.  And as with anything manufactured there are plus and minus points.

Laminated flooring, kitchen units, chipboard, plywood, MDF board and engineered flooring are all made using formaldehyde glue and although alternatives are becoming available they are not widespread.  So there is quite a lot of this material in our homes.  The formaldehyde stays put in these manufactured materials but disposal of all these things is an environmental issue.  Obviously the amount of plywood used in my models and toys is tiny compared to floor and kitchen use but I would still like to be able to say that the materials I use were fully environmentally friendly.

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Chris Miller