The Obama girls, Sasha and Malia, came home to a pleasant surprise recently: an all-wood swing set. “The 100 percent cedar and North American Redwood structure has four swings, including a tire swing, a slide, a fort, a climbing wall and climbing ropes. There’s also a picnic table with brass plates etched with the names of all 44 presidents” – AP. But the question on the minds of eco-conscious parents is: Are the Obama’s staying true to their promise to paint the White House green?


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The announcement has stirred an outpouring mixed reactions in the environmental community. While one commentator on the Huffington Post website thinks the set is a, “Brilliant choice — anything that gets kid’s out in the fresh air, and away from the TV is good. They will need every opportunity to get out of the WH gold fish bowl. Now, bring on that puppy!” It also made one environmentally conscious commentator quip, “No way! Made out of Redwood! Stop this please. They also served salmon to 200 people! Are you kidding? Do these people not care about the extinction of salmon or redwoods? Pull your heads out of the sandbox, Obamas!”

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Well, it seems the Obama’s did indeed make a decent green choice. The set is made by South Dakota company, Rainbow Play Systems, located in Brookings – “the most trusted brand name in wooden swing sets.” The Rainbow Play Systems website proudly announces that, “When purchasing a Rainbow Play System, you are making the environmentally responsible choice. Rainbow Play Systems, Inc. is proud to be using lumber, America’s greatest renewable resource!” They do this by mandating that their suppliers adhere to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (“third-party inspections of forestlands for sustainability and habitat use”) and that the mills are producing ‘Certified Lumber’ (5 trees planted for every 1 tree harvested).

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While it is true that there are certainly more sustainable materials that could go into the production of a swing set (such as bamboo or recycled plastics) it seems as if the Obama’s have made a good choice in putting the spotlight on an American company that is championing the use of sustainable materials while keeping their products at a somewhat attainable price. In other words, it would be great to see suburban backyards filled with Rainbow Play swing sets, as opposed to metal or plastic options.

Rainbow Play should soon be changing their tag line from, “Fine residential play equipment” to “Fine presidential play equipment.”

The newly added Rainbow All American Palace retails for $1,899 at big box retailer Toys R Us.