Environmentally Friendly Board Games

Following the UN report on climate change at the start of this month we learned a lot of things about the impact we have on the environment. Including that an immediate response is needed to limit the impact we have on global warming. Where do board games come into this? There are many small changes we can make to help but today I want to focus on two recent Kickstarter projects that’s main focus was that they were eco friendly.

Earthborne Rangers from Earthborne Games emphasised their commitment to sustainability on their Kickstarter page. They state that “Earthborne Games was founded on the principle that tabletop games can and should be manufactured sustainably.” There have been games I have received in the past that have disappointed me in the amount of plastic that was used in packaging that just gets thrown out in the end. Earthborne Games committed to having minimal packaging and also said they will use no single-use plastics. They also have tried to use sustainable materials in all of their components including making their minis from reclaimed pewter instead of the usual plastic. The biggest impact the board game industry has on the environment however is shipping, as such Earthborne Games decided that they would manufacture the game in any region that got 2000 or more backers. The game will be produced in the US since at the end only US and Canada had over 2000 backers but with about every 3 out of 5 backers being from this region that will greatly reduce the amount of shipping required of the game.

The second game I want to focus on is Earth Rising by Stop, Drop & Roll, not only are they trying to produce a board game sustainably but the theme of the game is to reverse climate change. The game focuses on different sectors of society and they have to “work together to bring the world into sustainable harmony”. They will produce the game using recycled materials and make a promise of no plastic components. In terms of transporting the game they are looking into feasible alternatives to using freight shipping but if they cannot find an alternative they will offset the emissions using Tree Sisters. One of the more interesting aspects of this project for me was the “Big Heart Donator” pledge level where you don’t even buy the game for yourself, instead you buy it for a school or library in the UK or US. You of course can still also buy the game for yourself and add on extra copies to be donated if you wish. They also developed an educator pack which includes the source materials used to create the game along with a lesson plan for teachers. These options have proved also to be popular with 1 in 5 backers picking them.

Engagement in a project is quite important to keep it relevant on Kickstarter and Earth Rising has used a clever way to encourage it. They have included a number of social goals for their project which help promote the project and give it greater reach. For every 5 retweets or shares on Instagram and Facebook (which can be done without even backing the project if you like what they are doing) 1 tree is planted. Then to keep the project high on the popularity rating on Kickstarter they need people to be coming to their page often and commenting. Well for every 10 comments from backers a tree is planted too and they update how many trees have been planted each morning, so there is one reason to come back each day. The project has been up a week and 32 trees have been planted so far.

These two projects put climate change and sustainability at the forefront of the project. There are also many other small changes that can be made to offset climate change. I touched briefly on one aspect we could change in my post about making digital prototypes. Through developing our game with tabletop simulator we were able to avoid printing numerous different versions of our game saving on a large volume of paper and ink. What other ways can you think of to reduce the impact the board game industry has on the environment?


  1. lauriesdr says:

    Hey, thanks for talking about us (Earth Rising), we absolutely hope that games such as ours and Earthborne Rangers will create a certainty in people’s mind that they don’t need to choose between high quality games and environmentally conscious games! There’s no need for our beloved industry to be complicit in the planet’s degradation, and I hope more games follow in our wake by making games we can all enjoy without creating more waste and pollution!


    1. Chris Heaney says:

      I hope too that changes in production and delivery can become the industry standard.


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