Almost a month ago, we received a press release for Barbie™ BCause, an attempt by Mattel to fool consumers into believing made in China, plastic, out-of-proportion dolls were green. I sent it out to our Eco Child’s Play writers stating, “Anyone want to take this on. I can’t do it. I’d be struck by lightening or something. ” Beth Bader responded that there had been too many lies, too much deception to believe such sustainability claims. So I thought green Barbie was dead to our blog, until Skye Kilaen of Crafting a Green World sent me an interesting article from Mother Jones. MJ writes:
When I first saw the press release about a “green” Mattel collection of accessories called Barbie BCause, I thought it was an April Fool’s joke. Apparently not. Mattel’s new “playful and on-trend” collection of hats and bags for young girls will be released “just in time to celebrate Earth Day in style.” Which is pretty ironic, really, given that Barbie dolls themselves are made out of plastic and are packaged in even more plastic. And not the kind of plastic you can throw in the recycling bin, either.
Barbie™ BCause is a line of accessories for girls made from excess fabric and trimmings from other Barbie products:
which would otherwise be discarded, offering eco-conscious girls a way to make an environmentally-friendly fashion statement with cool, patchwork-style accessories.
The eco-conscious young girls I know of steer clear of Barbie. My daughter just gave away her Barbie that her grandmother had bought her (without my approval, of course) while wearing her “Free Tibet” t-shirt. Truly green families will not be fooled by Mattel’s greenwashing. If a green girl wants a patchwork bag, she will make it from her own clothing she has outgrown and not Barbie’s.
“Barbie is always a reflection of current cultural trends and issues, and girls are increasingly aware of making a green statement,” said Richard Dickson, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Media and Entertainment, Worldwide, Mattel Brands. That’s right, Barbie is reflecting the trend of going green. Mattel realizes it wants a piece of the eco-friendly toy pie, but this ploy screams of greenwashing, especially considering the line will only be sold at Toys R Us. MJ sums it up well:
If Mattel really wants to be green, why not reduce the ridiculous amount of packaging they use for displaying their dolls? Why not only sell the collection at eco-conscious retailers instead of exclusively at Toys “R” Us? Oh right, because it’s Barbie.
And what’s with the stupid name BCause? I’m so tired of products targeted to children not using proper English. Haven’t toy makers ever heard of environmental print and the role it plays in young children’s literacy development?