You did it! Mattel and Barbie drop the deforestation

Posted by jamie — 5 October 2011 at 10:42am - Comments
Ken dumps Barbie: banner on Mattel HQ
All rights reserved. Credit: Greenpeace
Ken dumps Barbie: how our campaign launched in June

You read that right – following over half a million emails sent by you, Barbie has realised that toying with deforestation is no game. Mattel, the company behind Barbie, has decided that being involved in the destruction of Indonesia's rainforests is bad for business as well as the planet, and has dropped deforestation from its production line.

It was Barbie's shameful deforestation habit that forced Ken to break up with her back in June: she had destroyed rainforest in her toy packaging. Mattel was using products from Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), a pulp and paper company notorious for destroying Indonesian rainforests, including the habitat of the endangered Sumatran tiger. Ken was understandably distraught.

It wasn’t pretty. But all the drama that followed - Ken’s shocking interview, a public Twitter feud between the former couple, the hunt for hundreds of Chainsaw Barbies hidden across the UK – has a silver lining. It helped bring the continuing destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests for pulp and paper out into the open and forced action.

Mattel recognized it couldn’t allow its supply chains to include products from deforestation and that toy packaging shouldn’t come at the costs of rainforests and tiger habitat.

As the largest toy company in the world, their new policy sends a message to other companies that to be a responsible business you must be vigilant about keeping deforestation out of your products. As part of its new commitments, Mattel has instructed its suppliers to avoid wood fibre from controversial sources, including companies “that are known to be involved in deforestation”. Mattel had already told its suppliers to avoid buying from APP, but this new policy goes much further and tackles deforestation across its whole supply chain.

The policy also aims to increase the amount of recycled paper used in their business, as well boosting the use of wood products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

Of course, we'll be keeping a close eye on Mattel's progress to make sure it sticks to these commitments, and we'll still be pushing other toy companies such as Hasbro and Disney to do the same.

Now you know Mattel and Barbie have committed to dropping deforestation, you probably have only one thing on your mind. Will Barbie and Ken get back together? We don’t want to speculate – but couldn’t help but notice that hostilities between the couple have ceased.

Here’s how the Ken and Barbie breakup drama happened:

As you can imagine, the public airing of Barbie’s dirty deforestation laundry was so traumatic that everyone involved probably needs some time to heal. But it has led to Mattel taking action against deforestation, adding to the pressure from other companies such as Nestlé, Unilever and Carrefour who are also taking action on these issues. These companies are committing to removing deforestation from their supply chains and from their products. And that's worth some tears.

What does Mattel’s commitment mean for the rainforests and the habitat of the Sumatran tiger? It means that, by losing another high profile customer, APP is paying a heavy price for continuing to rely on destroying rainforests for pulp and paper. People don’t want to buy products that come from deforestation, and right now companies that want to be deforestation-free can’t use APP products. APP has to face these realities and change, just like its sister company palm oil supplier Golden Agri Resources, which has already made strong commitments to stop deforestation.

APP needs to make a similar move. We saw the tragic costs of how APP operates when we reported on the death of a Sumatran tiger on the border of an APP-owned concession.  In the last two weeks the Greenpeace Tiger Eye tour has been documenting continued deforestation by APP.

Our activists have exposed APP’s persistent attempts to greenwash its image and pass itself off as a company that cares and acts responsibly towards the environment. As long as APP continues to put its efforts into marketing campaigns that cover up the truth, rather than changing its practices, we’ll continue to expose its tricks.

And we know you’ll be there with us. Mattel's new policy is all down to you. Your support is important to keeping attention on the plight of Indonesia’s rainforests - the habitat of endangered animals like the Sumatran tiger – thank you.

Brilliant win! Lego and Mattel down, now Hasbro and Disney to go, looking forward to what campaign actions happen if they don't change their ways...

Also, the scroll box with the Ken and Barbie breakup feed isn't working for me, just showing random characters

Thanks! Sorry the slideshow isn't working - you can see it in its native habitat at http://storify.com/greenpeace/ken-barbie-break-up-over-deforestation

Hopefully Duisney and Hasbro will topple over like dominos!

About Jamie

I'm one of the editors of the website, and I do a lot of work on the Get Active section, as well as doing web stuff for the forests campaign. I've worked for Greenpeace since 2006 and, coming from a background as a freelance writer and web producer, it's been something of an education to be part of a direct action organisation. I'm from Cumbria originally but now I live in north London - I came to study here and somehow have never left.

My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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