Today, I depart from the world of green building to the world of green building blocks for a quick look at a (mostly) non-plastic LEGO alternative from Japan sure to appeal to pint-sized aspiring eco-architects and/or housebound-in-the-winter folks in desperate need of a stack-and-lock-based distraction.

Called Earth Blocks, the Colors Tokyo-designed building blocks are made from cedar bark shavings, sawdust, coffee beans, and green tea leaves and are, gasp, blended with recyclable polypropylene so that they don’t crumble and fall apart in your hands. As you can see, the blocks come in one color: brown-ish. Or, as Michael Hsu elaborates in a recent Wall Street Journal review, “instead of the brash, kid-friendly colors of their Danish counterparts, Earth Blocks draw on more urbane hues — a palette of greens and browns, mottled, like a forest floor.” Alrighty then. My first question about Earth Blocks when spotting them — they’ve been positively blowing up across the green blogosphere the past few days — was do they smell? Well, apparently they do as Hsu notes that the upcoming green tea variety gives off a “sweet, almost floral fragrance.”

For now, the softer-than-LEGO blocks only come in one size (1.25” x 5/8” x 5/8”) which may prove be a deal-breaker for some seasoned building block vets under the age of 12. I kind of eschewed LEGO fever myself (hard to do in the early 80s) and reached for Lincoln Logs or plain ol’ wooden blocks when I grew tired of my preferred playtime medium of choice, Playmobil. This had nothing to do with an early distaste for plastics ... I suppose I was just more into building miniature homes out of wood instead of pixilated plastic pirate ships. Plastic-weary parents: how do you think your kids would react to Earth Blocks?

"Cedar Dust" Earth Blocks are now available at the Guggenheim Store (but of course) for $30 (set of 50 blocks).

Via [WSJ], [Designboom]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Earth Blocks: Not your chip off the old, LEGO-esque building block
An earthy riff on the traditional LEGO form, Earth Blocks are made from natural materials like sawdust, coffee beans and green tea leaves (with just a hint of p