Sunday, May 11, 2008

Barbie BCause Backlash

Short but interesting article by Dan Mitchell in yesterday's New York Times about a blogger-led backlash against Barbie's new line of "eco-friendly" products...which includes cloth bags and other accessories that "repurpose excess fabric and trimmings from other Barbie doll fashions and products which would otherwise be discarded." At issue is Mattel's attempt to get in on the eco-toys trend, a move that many see as mere "greenwashing" of an otherwise environmentally unfriendly product line. Here's an excerpt:
When greenwashing is aimed at adults, environmentalists generally find it annoying and sometimes — if it is sufficiently transparent — amusing. But when children are the targets, the environmentalists find it infuriating. So when Mattel recently issued a news release promoting its new line of Barbie BCause accessories for the doll — hats, handbags and the like — it was too much for the blogger on Eco Child’s Play, Jennifer Lance.

“The eco-conscious young girls I know of steer clear of Barbie,” she wrote. “Truly green families will not be fooled by Mattel’s greenwashing.”

According to Mattel’s (news release), the “playful and on-trend Barbie BCause collection repurposes excess fabric and trimmings from other Barbie doll fashions and 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 whole thing is “pretty ironic given that Barbie dolls themselves are made out of plastic and are packaged in even more plastic,” Jen Phillips wrote on Mother Jones magazine’s blog, the Blue Marble. "And not the kind of plastic you can throw in the recycling bin, either."

For more on greenwashing kids' commercial culture, check out Amy's recent post on the issue over at Shaping Youth.

No comments: