It may sound weird, but Lego is quietly trying to ditch plastics.

For the past 59 years, we've all been building spaceships and castles, experimenting with what head goes on what body, and arguing with our siblings about where the grey 2-by-5 brick went — thanks to Lego.

"The S.S. Awesome can't have any holes in it, Amanda. I know you have that 1-by-8 somewhere." Photo by Kent Gavin/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images, circa 1962.


Though nearly indestructible, Legos aren't eternal. The bricks your kids or grandkids play with probably won't be the ones you remember.

Beyond grocery bags and Barbie dolls, Legos might be the most iconic plastic object ever, but making things out of plastic can be problematic.

It's not just that plastic doesn't break down, though that's a major issue with some plastic products. It's also about the carbon footprint to make them. To make a conventional plastic, you have to pump petroleum or natural gas out of the ground, refine it, and mold it. All of these steps take energy and can produce carbon dioxide.

For the last couple of years, Lego has been experimenting with making their iconic bricks from eco-friendly sources.

In 2015, Lego announced it would invest the equivalent of $155 million into finding a non-oil, smaller-footprint source for the various plastic they need to make all those tires, trees, and movie stars.

Fun fact: Lego's apparently one of the world's largest tire manufacturers. Photo from Lego Media Library.

Since then, they have been experimenting with different types of bio-plastics, which can be made from plants like corn or wheat and produce less emissions than conventional plastic.

The goal is to find alternatives for 20 types of plastic by the year 2030.

There are hurdles to making something as durable, flexible, and iconic as a Lego, and the company is still experimenting. Whatever they choose, it'll need to snap together with existing Legos, last just as long, and preserve the aesthetic. Their latest experiment with wheat sugar, for example, failed because it couldn't hold the right shine, as Quartz reported.

This change won't eliminate the carbon cost of manufacturing, nor will it address other carbon costs like shipping, but little changes add up. After all, 19 billion new Lego pieces are produced each year. Furthermore, the Lego company has also been reducing its carbon footprint through other means as well, including investing in an offshore wind farm. In fact, it recently met a 100% renewable energy milestone.

I assume the real wind farm contains a bit more, you know, metal and concrete and stuff. Photo from Lego Media Library.

Playing with Legos has been a nearly universal part of childhood for almost 60 years. Our kids will likely continue to build castles and spaceships, but their future creations — and their building blocks — won't be exactly the same as ours were. And that's a wonderful, necessary step of progress.

Heroes

Brace yourselves, folks, because this is almost too friggin' adorable to handle.

A 911 call can be a scary thing, and an emergency call from a dad having chest pains and trouble breathing is no exception. But thankfully, an exchange between that dad's 5-year-old daughter and 911 dispatcher Jason Bonham turned out to be more humor than horror. If you missed hearing the recording that has repeatedly gone viral since 2010, you have to hear it now. It's perfectly timeless.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Image by Brent Connelly from Pixabay and sixthformpoet / Twitter

Twitter user Matt, who goes by the name @SixthFormPoet, shared a dark love story on Twitter that's been read by nearly 600,000 people. It starts in a graveyard and feels like it could be the premise for a Tim Burton film.

While it's hard to verify whether the story is true, Matt insists that it's real, so we'll believe him.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Can the teens do literally anything without being blasted? Apparently not...

Katie Cornetti and Marissa Bordas, two Pittsburgh teens, were involved in a car crash. After taking a sharp turn on a winding road, the car flipped twice, then landed on its side. The girls said later on that they weren't on their phones at the time. The cause of the crash was because the tires on Bordas' car were mounted improperly.

The girls were wearing their seatbelts and were fine, aside from a few bruises. However, they were trapped in the car for about 20 minutes, so to pass the time while they waited for help, they decided to make a TikTok video. They made sure they were totally fine before they started recording.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Approximately 10% of the population is left-handed, and the balance between lefties and righties has been the same for almost 5,000 years. People used to believe that left-handed people were evil or unlucky. The word "sinister" is even derived from the Latin word for "left."

In modern times, the bias against lefties for being different is more benign – spiral notebooks are a torture device, and ink gets on their hands like a scarlet letter. Now, a new study conducted at the University of Oxford and published in Brain is giving left-handers some good news. While left-handers have been struggling with tools meant for right-handers all these years, it turns out, they actually possess superior verbal skills.

Researchers looked at the DNA of 400,000 people in the U.K. from a volunteer bank. Of those 400,000 people, 38,332 were southpaws. Scientists were able to find the differences in genes between lefties and righties, and that these genetic variants resulted in a difference in brain structure, too. "It tells us for the first time that handedness has a genetic component," Gwenaëlle Douaud, joint senior author of the study and a fellow at Oxford's Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, told the BBC.

Keep Reading Show less
popular