As a young mother, when your child is sick from exposure to a toxic chemical, a plethora of emotions floods your system. Over ten years ago, that mother was me. I had all of those emotions as my little boy had an adverse reaction to a toy in his learning environment. The strongest reaction I had was that of action – how could I make this better for my own family, and families within my community?
As we began to explore what the healthiest, quality materials were for our children’s learning spaces, the reality was that the materials we were seeking did not exist. There were no non-toxic materials that offered connection to the outdoors (when we know we must often be indoors), and there were no elements that spoke to the open-ended play that our children need to thrive and learn about the world around them.
This was the call to action that propelled Natural Pod into existence. Our framework is rooted in having intentional conversation with the true end users of the space, about the learning that needs to take place within, and how we can support those activities with meaningful choices.
This is an exciting time in the evolution of Natural Pod! Today, we are launching our Better Together initiative that connects our ethos and the need to create beautiful, durable, and sustainable materials specifically for the benefit of children and educators. The past few years have taught us that we can create mindful solutions when we do things together.
With the intention of creating better learning environments for students and educators, four values-driven companies based in British Columbia, Canada – Natural Pod, ChopValue, Halfmoon, Lifespace, and Unbuilders – have come together to create a mixed-material collection of foundational elements that creates a warm and welcoming learning environment.
Materials range from recycled chopsticks, reclaimed lumber, and linen textiles. These product partnerships encompass items that have a story of where they came from and the impact they’re striving to make in the world. Their existence demonstrates that where we put emphasis now, can inform and shape the future.
Better Together is being offered exclusively to the learning community through Natural Pod; a learning solution company. Using in-house design, build, and product sourcing, Natural Pod creates environments that enhance the health, well-being and learning experience of students, while making a positive impact on the planet.
These products have a beautiful design, durable quality, and are made with sustainable materials.
These are timeless pieces. They create a neutral canvas for all the future activities and trends that will come and go, shift and evolve. Providing a place where one can learn, create, be comfortable and will reflect the personalities of all the people in the space. Shifting with the needs of those within it, it’s not precious, it’s meant to be rearranged and customized! Learning spaces should offer a continuity of care and offer the opportunities to craft a space to be what we need it to be, when we need it.
Our ambition for creating these product partnerships that will support children and educators in their learning experiences, is to offer foundational elements in learning environments that can be enjoyed and used in a multitude of ways. Where children will be able to nurture their curiosity, to continue asking the questions of “What could this be?” and “Where did this product come from?” to enhance their overall learning experience, providing context and connectivity to the world they are so important to. To see that sometimes what is perceived to be impossible is very possible.
We’re elevating learning environments that have a meaningful story and can actively contribute to the learning experience of children. These environments showcase that innate ability to create something with intention from local companies, the ability to work with others to accomplish a common goal, and the ability to think critically and to demonstrate that it often takes a village to create something meaningful, yet can build community during the journey. These products are an outcome of a learning experience each founder and team had, demonstrating that if we stay curious, wonder, and experiment, we can create something remarkable.
These brands are supporting students and educators to create better learning environments, together. Because we’re all better, together.
About our partners:
1.5 billion disposable chopsticks are used worldwide, per week. Most travel thousands of kilometers for a single use and then straight to the landfill. We have the responsibility to do better.
ChopValue was founded by Felix Böck, a wood engineer with a PhD in bamboo composites who quickly realized the potential of under-utilized resources when learning about the amount of wood waste found in major North American cities. With this knowledge, the idea of urban harvesting was born.
ChopValue has recycled over 60 million chopsticks from collection partners such as restaurants, food courts, and hotels, effectively diverting them from the landfill. ChopValue’s principles continue to be rooted in a sense of responsibility to educate, inspire, and lead by example, one chopstick at a time.
Through this partnership, ChopValue and Natural Pod are offering select furniture products to be used in learning environments, for students, educators, and administrators, that are created from recycled chopsticks.
The Halfmoon intention today is the same as it was over 30 years ago upon inception: To create beautifully designed yoga and meditation goods that hold and comfort you on your mindfulness journey.
Halfmoon’s products are crafted just outside of Vancouver, BC, and consciously designed for various practices. Their wisdom, experience, and West Coast energy are woven into everything they create. Whether you’re a devoted yogi looking, or looking to begin your journey seeking resilience, energy, and mental clarity. Halfmoon’s yoga and meditation essentials are lovingly made to meet you exactly where you are.
Through partnership, Halfmoon and Natural Pod are offering quality textiles for multi-purpose use in learning environments, whether for mindfulness or a soft space to read, these materials bring warmth and comfort to any learning space.
LifeSpace gardens have been specifically designed to grow plants and food almost anywhere, no matter how small or unlikely the available space.
To ensure communities would have gardening success and need less maintenance, every LifeSpace planter, made primarily from local urban upcycled lumber, has an inner food-safe liner that protects the wood from the inside out, eliminating chances of rot and greatly extending their lifespan by 2-3x compared to standard wood planters. Each one also comes with their SIP (sub-irrigated Planter) system. This uses 80% less water than traditional watering practices, only needs filling once a week (ideal in the summer months) with the drainage being completely controlled and therefore essentially mess-free.
Natural Pod and LifeSpace have partnered together to offer a selection of planter gardens for students of all ages and capabilities. Your learners will be fully engaged in their gardening journey: from putting the boxes together, to learning about soil and planting, to watching their edible garden grow.
The demolition industry generates millions of tonnes of waste annually in Canada, 37% of which is valuable lumber. Companies are throwing away usable, renewable resources and charging their customers to do so.
Unbuilders doesn’t demolish old buildings, they unbuild them. While Heritage Lumber processes the reclaimed old growth lumber, giving it a second life. The industry shift to deconstruction has massively positive environmental and social impacts. Currently, 4 million tonnes of waste are diverted annually by unbuilding buildings.
Unbuilders and Natural Pod have designed one-of-a-kind furniture to give salvaged lumber a new life to support students in their learning experience and also provide an opportunity to learn of the rich history of where their table came from.
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