The Ultimate Greenwashing: Barbie Goes Green

BarbieAlmost 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?

Image: marketing.blogs

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  1. Dude this is hilarious! The lengths companies will go to in order to try and dupe the general public. Seriously, the only ones buying this are the same people buying the earth day walmart shirts that say “Save the People”. Wait, that is probably a lot of people. I guess this is sad then? Now I am angry!

  2. I also saw a statement from Mattel saying they were reducing the amount of tape and twisty-ties in the packaging that holds Barbie in place, claiming that was their companies green stance and it would save so many resources. They claim Barbie, however, must be made of petroleum in order to continue her likeable feel for children. Crazy…

  3. Oh yes, I know so many children who write “petroleum products” on their lists for Santa.

  4. We are rapidly approaching doll-play age with our sprout and we’re wondering what alternatives exist to Barbie?

    I don’t like Barbie for a number of reasons, and Bratz are out as well.

    What’s left, though?

  5. Bunny, I like the Only Hearts Club dolls, because they have girl physiques and minimal plastic on the face and hands. They are polyester though. For eco dolls, you can’t beat waldorf, but they are pricey unless you make your own. Supposedly, some new eco dolls are coming out, but I haven’t heard more about them for a few months. We will post about them as soon as we see them.

  6. This is pathetic! I guess Mattel just can’t come up with a better way to be earth concious. It is so true the eco-concious (as well as budget conscious) girl would make her own bag. My daughter is only 11 but she made her own quilt! This is a sham.

  7. “Everybody is going green” Until you get so green you become a terrorist organization.

    And recycling 1-7 are all different.

  8. Commentor says:

    Why ‘BCause?’

    Well the ‘B’ is for ‘Barbie,’ and the ‘Cause’ part is because it wants to suggest that it is ‘for a good cause.’

    That’s my guess.

  9. i mean green is good but come on… let your kids have barbies… i mean im a dude with hair down to my ass. but come on you freaking hippies, come ON!!

  10. yongke says:

    The author sure jumping off the “Green” bandwagon and right into the “Free Tibet” bandwagon… Ya for Irony.

  11. A very meaningful and environment-friendly post.

  12. I don’t understand how this could possibly be eco I wonder if they could get sued for improper usage of the term.

  13. “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.”
    Yes, and I’m sure she really understood the issue, and wasn’t just jumping on the FREE TIBET! bandwagon.

  14. Anyone who buys Barbies has not seen the miserable factories in China that produce them. Greenwashing at a kid level. Sheesh. Grateful for your vigilance!

    A substitute for Barbie? Whatever happened to family pets?

  15. Congrats on the mention in the New York Times. Every little bit helps. Keep it up!

  16. Mattel was nominated for Corporate Accountability Intnerational’s 2008 Corporate Hall of Shame for using lead paint in its toys. To nominate Mattel again for this years Hall of Shame, or to nominate another abusive corporation go to:

  17. fea tu quien lea este mensaje es feo o fea

  18. Hi

    The world hasn’t warmed for seven years, ice core analysis is nonsense (the air is altered by water seepage and pressure), hurricanes aren’t getting worse, the Nineties were cooler than the Thirties, the IPCC admits (in very fine print) that their computerized climate models are completely inadequate as predictors of future weather and many little girls love Barbie.

    Why don’t you people get a life?

  19. Mike, do you spend ALL your time online telling people that they’re wrong, or only some of it? I assume, that is, that you went looking for this site, as someone who is so obviously not a believer wouldn’t otherwise have stumbled onto this article.

    Why don’t you get a life?

  20. Oil & gas prices are out of control. Major banks and mortgage companies are failing. Unemployment is at an all time high. People are losing their houses and becoming homeless at alarming rates. The United States is in a severe recession, and the rest of the world is following close behind.
    Y’all are worried about Barbie dolls, huh?

  21. beautiiiii

  22. Thoughtful post and well written. Please write more on this if you have time.

  23. I really enjoyed this post, especially the ¡°examples in this post¡± portion which made it really easy for me to SEE what you were talking about without even having to leave the article. Thanks

  24. EPIC internet site. I’m entirely wanting forwards to seeing much more posts!!!

  25. barbiegurlzz says:

    i love barbie for ever and ever…

  26. That last statement says it all for me. I’m in school to become a teacher, and since I’ve learned to spell it has literally BOGGLED MY MIND that children’s toys can be made by a company called “PlaySkool”. And ice cream parlours named “Dairee Delite”, “Toys ‘R’ Us”. There’s not even a step forward. It’s just a whole bunch of steps backward.

  27. Kit Carson says:

    Most of the intelligent little girls I know don’t give a flying burrito about eco-friendliness and other adult problems like that. They care about playing with their toys and appreciating their childhood. Denying a child her Barbie and telling her that it isn’t eco-friendly only denies the little girl a desired plaything (and potential friend) and fills her head with thoughts that she shouldn’t be worrying about until she’s in college. You greengeek hippies need to be a little more selfish. Instead of catering to the whims of an ugly ape in Indonesia, focus more on your little girl and what she wants.

    And if what she wants is an eco-friendly toy, then congrats. You’ve turned your child into an idiot.


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