Green Lifestyle

Published on October 1st, 2019 | by Scott Cooney


Wooden 3D puzzles: eco-friendly education and fun

Here at Green Living Ideas, we love simple, elegant concepts that embody complex systems in a sustainable way. When they also result in a good time, we’re all in! Puzzles, for instance, are a type of smart toys that provide our brain with essential exercise that it needs not only to excel but to perform its everyday duties better.

Puzzles have been proven to improve our memory, problem-solving skills, and spatial-visual reasoning. They are also an efficient way of dealing with stress and anxiety, as well as a perfect companion for improving your overall perspective on things, as they provide us with a sense of achievement that is so important for healthy self-esteem both in children and adults.

Eco-friendly puzzles throughout history

Jigsaw puzzles are the most traditional form of this smart toy that originates from England in the 1760s. The “jigsaw” name comes from the fact that early puzzles were created by using a jigsaw to cut the pieces. John Spilsbury, an engraver and mapmaker is the man behind the very first jigsaw puzzles who cut maps pasted on wood into small pieces. Puzzles are a great example of an eco-friendly toy that is manufactured from natural materials and doesn’t require any special tools, like glue, to assemble.

Puzzles have come a long way since then, mainly in terms of subjects they cover now, and not so much the technology that stayed more or less the same, apart from the unavoidable switch to cheaper materials like cardboard when entering the era of mass production. This is true however for many toys that managed to withstand the test of time. And puzzles did do that, as their popularity after the 18th century spiked once again, in the times of the Great Depression, when sales sprung up to millions within just months. They became an ultimate cheap form of entertainment that was affordable to a vast number of families. But nowadays puzzles are faced with a challenge of modern smart toys that come in all shapes and sizes and are interactive and, of course, technology.

Eco-friendly puzzles nowadays

In order to compete with an unparalleled variety of toys on the market, puzzles had to adapt and evolve. They might have changed their appearance, but they have stayed true to the key appeal that helped them to remain popular for such a long time: they are made from natural materials and are educational. Wooden 3D puzzles from UGears feature pre-cut parts that are easily taken out of their wooden frames with just a little bit of pressure applied. Puzzle pieces are smooth and extremely pleasant to the touch, as UGears engineers make sure that there will be no potential splinters-situations during the assembly. Each part is joined together with another one by clicking in the joints, and just like jigsaw puzzles, these sets come in various difficulty levels that are suitable for all ages while covering a wide range of subjects.

All UGears 3D puzzle sets are made from 100% natural high-grade plywood and fill the room with a pleasant scent of wood when you open the package.  The sets feature a signature style with a high level of detail and a number of moving elements that range from opening doors, moving windshield wipers or retractable step ladders to easy and complex self-propelled rubber-band mechanisms that allow steampunk clocks to move their hands, miniature jewelry boxes to slide open their secret compartments, or trains, trucks, and boats to travel for up to 13 feet in one setting!

Featuring 3 levels of difficulty these puzzle sets are not only suitable for all ages but are great illustrations of the key principles of mechanics. From a bear cub moving his paw to play a guitar or a windmill rotating its blades in sync with the wheel to a miniature copy of a steam engine inside an open exterior locomotive with fascinating moving pistons and valves, children and adults will find these sets an inexhaustible source of entertainment long after the assembly is over.

Photos provided by the company

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About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on

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