Barbie Gives Up Deforestation: Mattel to Stop Using Packaging Harvested from Threatened Rainforests


Photo: Greenpeace

A few months back, Greenpeace staged a well-publicized stunt at the Mattel headquarters in Los Angeles to expose the corporation for using wood from threatened rainforests for toy packaging. The humorous campaign, which included a narrative in which Ken dumps Barbie for her forest-destroying tastes, evidently struck a chord: Mattel announced today that they will stop buying packaging from companies that use unsustainably harvested wood.From Greenpeace's announcement:

"Mattel is instructing its suppliers to avoid wood fiber from companies "that are known to be involved in deforestation." One such company is the notorious Asia Pulp and Paper group (APP), which Greenpeace investigators have shown to be involved in widespread rainforest clearance in Indonesia.

Responding to the news, Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace's campaign to save the forests in Indonesia, said: "The rainforests of Indonesia should be for species like the Sumatran tiger, not for throw-away toy packaging. That's why it is such good news that Mattel has developed a new paper buying policy ... While Greenpeace will keep a close eye on Mattel to ensure it implements its commitments, we will encourage other companies, including Disney and Hasbro, to take similar action to protect rainforests."

Using a combination of research and forensic testing, Greenpeace investigators showed that packaging for the Mattel toys was being produced using timber from the rainforests of Indonesia, home to endangered species such as the Sumatran tiger.

This is a major victory, and an important reminder that well-executed activist campaigns still have the power to initiate significant change. Folks on the right and in the mainstream press gripe about hippies or activist tactics to no end, but just look at this: Nobody (except maybe the pulp and paper companies) thinks harvesting threatened rainforests for disposable packaging is a good idea. Nobody thinks that threatening endangered species like the beloved Sumatran tiger for the sake of cheaper throw-away packaging is a good idea.

So Greenpeace bucked up, staged a stunt -- and provoked real change.

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