LEGO's new botanical collection is made from plant-based plastics

There are 756 pieces in the new LEGO Flower Bouquet, which the company describes as a "unique flower bouquet and creative project for adults." The new LEGO Bonsai Tree comes with 878 pieces that promise to help grown-ups "enjoy a sense of calm." While I suppose there's no real reason to exclude kids from building flowers out of little plastic blocks, they're not the target audience for this. As the company explains:

While many people seek out green spaces to destress and relax, adults can now bring a touch of nature into their home and unwind as they create and customise their botanical builds….and the great news is that LEGO plants don't need to be watered to stay fresh.

With 7 in 10 adults saying they often research new ways to destress and over 8 in 10 saying play helps them relax, the new sets could provide the perfect perennial project for those looking to get creative, destress and find moments of mindfulness in a day.

It's a neat idea; there's already a nice puzzle-building, almost meditational sense of mind clarity involved with building LEGOs. But what makes these new LEGO sets even cooler is that they're built from a plant-based plastic made from "sustainably-sourced sugarcane" in a carbon-neutral manufacturing process.

The company has been experimenting with this material the last few years; according to The Independent, about 1-2 percent of LEGO products are made from so-called "bioplastics." But the scare quotes are important to include here. Because even though these plant-based materials are technically biodegradable, it's not really a quality you can count on. From Yale 360:

While both of the bioplastics now in use can be broken down by microorganisms and become part of the natural world again in a short period of time, this only happens if the plastic is collected and composted in carefully controlled, high-temperature industrial composting facilities — and there aren't many of those, especially in developing countries where the problem of plastic pollution is most severe.

If bioplastics end up in landfills, as many do, without enough oxygen to break them down, they can last for centuries and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. If thrown into the environment, they pose threats similar to PET plastic.

So while this is certainly better than relying on petroleum-based plastics for everything, it's not quite as green as it sounds. Still, if you're looking to find some flowery calm in your home, the LEGO Botanical Collection is a nice alternative. And they require much less water and maintenance than regular organic plants!

Let creativity bloom with new botanical builds from the LEGO Group [LEGO]

'Sustainable' Lego: Why plastics from plants won't solve the pollution crisis [Sharon George and Deirdre McKay / The Independent]

Why Bioplastics Will Not Solve the World's Plastics Problem [Jim Robbins / Yale 360]