Thursday, May 23, 2013

Barbie... Doctor, Flight Attendant, Polluter

I am lucky to have my friend Alex, who sends me all kinds of environmental news for my blog. When she sent me one about Barbies, I thought it would be fun to do a post about it since we grew up playing with them together, although I was the weird child who preferred bugs, cars, and dinosaur toys over dolls. So just how eco-friendly is that iconic plastic doll? Really, she's anything but. Mattel says they are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a type of plastic that is very bad for the environment and your health. The production of PVC requires vinyl chloride, which is a carcinogen. A by-product of its production is dioxin, which is also a carcinogen. Dioxins are also produced when PVC is burned, and it is not easily recyclable. The recycling process can be dangerous because of all the toxic chemicals that can be released if it is not done properly. And it takes a very, very long time to break down naturally. Phthalates are also added to make the plastic flexible. They have been linked to cancer as well, along with endocrine disruption.
The doll itself is not the only problem. The box she comes in is also an environmental disaster. So much unnecessary plastic is used in the packaging. And Greenpeace says it has evidence that the cardboard is sourced from Indonesian rain forests.
In an attempt to jump on the bandwagon, Mattel turned to greenwashing to try and make Barbie seem environmentally friendly. They launched the Barbie BCause line; accessories for girls made from extra fabric from other Barbie products. While it's good they are not throwing this in the landfill, the fabric and materials are not eco-friendly in the first place. They are made from synthetic fibers and plastics. Mattel simply saw a way to turn their waste into money.
So while Barbie may be a veterinarian/princess/ballerina, she is also ruining the environment. No wonder Ken dumped her.

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