Barbie an enemy of the rain forests? PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 June 2011 14:14

Parents who have given Barbie dolls to their daughters may have unwittingly contributed to the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests, according to a statement coming from the environment group Greenpeace. That’s quite discomforting too for those girls who grew up embracing, dressing up and talking to that lovable doll. Ironically, a number of them may have become activists for the environment one way or another, the same persons who may now be shouting at loggers and miners to pack up and leave.

Greenpeace said its “forensic investigation” showed that packaging for the doll is produced using timber from Indonesia’s rainforests where the endangered Sumatran tiger lives. Company certificates also revealed that Mattel, the makers of Barbie, as well as toy companies like Disnet “are using packaging produced by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP)”. The group accused APP of ‘wrecking Indonesia’s rainforests to make products such as packaging”.

But while it is displeased by this discovery, Greenpeace isn’t exactly telling people to stop buying Barbie. It has simply asked Mattel to “stop wrapping the world’s most famous toy in rainforest destruction. Barbie must stop buying packaging from APP, a notorious rainforest destroyer which has been exposed many times for wrecking Indonesia’s rainforests to make throw-away packaging.” The group asked the toy companies to drop APP.

Greenpeace activists dramatized their campaign by wearing tuxedos to mimic Barbie’s “boyfriend” Ken and scaling Mattel’s Los Angeles headquarters with a giant banner which reads: “Barbie: It’s Over. I Don’t Date Girls That Are Into Deforestation.”

The whole point of Greenpeace’s campaign is for consumers to examine closely if patronizing certain products is not tantamount to taking part in any form of environmental degradation. Some items on the shelf that look trendy and harmless may in fact hold sad stories of large-scale destruction of forests, extinction of species and worse, exploitation and dislocation of communities.

A young man’s gift of expensive gold ring to his girl may come from a mining firm whose operations have resulted in these crimes which, sadly, will likely remain unpunished. Strange – and unfortunate – that a material expression of affection could be a symbol too of things that have made many people suffer.

Indeed, who would have thought that Barbie, a plaything that has become an obsession of many a young girl fascinated by its well-carved frame and eyes that open and close depending on its position, is “guilty” of destroying Indonesia’s forests? Yet some good things can come out from the bad. If and when their daughters say they wish to grab one of those pretty dolls, mothers should take it as a good opportunity to start some pep talk on the environment. H. Marcos C. Mordeno writes a column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. He can be reached at hmcmordeno @gmail.com --H. MARCOS C. MORDENO