Barbie & Mattel’s deforestation habit goes viral’

by Guest Blogger

June 15, 2011

Breaking up in public isn’t easy. But Ken and Barbie, who split last week over Barbie’s rainforest wrecking, have done so in a very, very public way. Ken’s video interview that broke the scandal has now been seen over one million times! And over 200,000 of you have written to Mattel asking that they stop packing their toys in rainforest destruction.

But, despite this huge interest, it looks like the toy cupboard’s most famous on-off relationship will remain off for a little while longer – Barbie and Ken are still spending time apart, as Mattel hasn’t yet made a clear commitment to removing forest destruction completely from its supply chains.  

Instead, they turned off the comments on Barbie’s Facebook page. But that hasn’t stopped people speculating on when Barbie will finally get help for that nasty deforestation habit. (And if she does, will her and Ken ever be able to move past their shocking public break up?)

Mattel did, however, take the first step on the road to rehabilitation last week by admitting that it – and Barbie – have a problem. That problem is using products from Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), a company that continues to rely on clearing Indonesian rainforests for pulp and paper, despite the terrible consequences for our climate, local communities, and endangered animals like the Sumatran tiger.

Soon after the scandal involving their most famous toy broke, Mattel issued an initial statement saying they had “launched an investigation into deforestation allegations.” These aren’t allegations – but facts. Facts based on a Greenpeace International investigation that used forensic testing and mapping data. APP is clearing rainforest from areas of critical wildlife habitat and deep peatland, and current company statements show it has no intentions of stopping these environmentally destructive practices any time soon. Mattel has claimed to be developing a no deforestation policy, but the company has provided no details on how it will implement this policy or any timelines for removing APP products completely from its supply chains.

The scandal surrounding Barbie continues and has followed her throughout the week. From California, to Finland, to Australia, all of her public appearances have had a distinct theme: chainsaws, destroyed rainforests and endangered Sumatran tigers.

On her way to the Mattel headquarters in El Segundo, California Barbie was stopped by police – not for being a forest destroyer – but for driving her pink bulldozer in what was apparently a ‘bulldozer-free zone’.

Meanwhile on Twitter, Ken and Barbie have been trading bitter tweets about the end of their relationship and the cause behind it: Mattel’s use of products coming from destroyed rainforests and peatlands.

@barbie Got a hot date tonight with a lumberjack! #Barbie”

“@ken_talks *Sigh* @barbie when ure ready to start taking your deforestation habit seriously … i might answer ure DMs”

The disturbing truth is that there are lots of dolls and toys out there with secret deforestation habits. Barbie and Ken’s explosive breakup last week has put a public face to the problem of the entire toy industry: using products from forest destroyer APP.

The toy industry has an opportunity to react to the demands by so many of you to protect Indonesian rainforests. Other major companies like Disney and Hasbro should act to ensure they aren’t using products coming from destroyed rainforests.  Even Ken has begun to realize the problem is bigger than Barbie:


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