June 8, 2011

Greenpeace In Battle With Barbie

The US maker of the most popular doll ever created, Barbie, has been accused of contributing to the destruction of Indonesian forests and habitats of endangered species by the environmental watchdog organization outfit, Greenpeace, reports the AFP news agency.

Greenpeace claims that the packaging used in Barbie and Ken doll packaging contained timber products from Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), which it described as a "notorious" destroyer of Indonesia's dwindling natural forests.

"Barbie destroys natural forests and pushes rare species such as tigers to the brink of extinction," Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Bustar Maitar told AFP. "Mattel, which makes Barbie, must stop wrapping the world's most famous toy in rainforest destruction."

Maitar claims APP is a "notorious rainforest destroyer which has been exposed many times for wrecking Indonesia's rainforests to make throw-away packaging. APP is bad news for Indonesia's forests. It treats Indonesia as nothing more than a vast disposable asset, grabbing rainforests that are vital to forest communities."

And it's not just Barbie manufacturer Mattel who is under scrutiny. Disney toy figures, including Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Snow White, as well as Hasbro and Lego products were also found to be using packaging made from rainforest wood products.

Greenpeace bought 30 mainly Mattel-made dolls from all over the globe. The packaging was sent to a laboratory where researchers were able to detect the type of wood fibers used in the packaging. Longer fibers indicate tropical hardwood from rainforests while shorter fibers indicate softwood grown on plantations. All but five of the 30 products tested were found to have used rainforest wood, The Daily Mail reports.

"Mattel and other toy companies like Disney have a responsibility to support clean, low carbon development. They should drop APP right now and instead support responsible Indonesian producer," Maitar continued.

APP, a subsidiary of paper and palm oil giant Sinar Mas, said it was shocked by the allegations and denied that its activities posed any threat to endangered species or forests. "I was quite shocked that they attacked us. We are proud to use recycled paper and we are trying to promote the use of recycled paper," APP managing director for sustainability Aida Greenbury said.

Indonesia is the world's third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, primarily through deforestation for the timber industry to establish coal mines and oil palm plantations.

In protest this week, Greenpeace activists dressed as Barbie's long-term boyfriend, Ken, and hung from ropes along the side of Mattel's headquarters near Los Angeles to unfurl a banner saying Barbie packaging contributes to rainforest destruction.  

The massive pink-and-blue sign on the Mattel building outside Los Angeles, featured a picture of Ken declaring: "ËœBarbie, it's over. I don't date girls that are into deforestation.' 

"Love her or loathe her, Barbie has been part of the cultural landscape for over 50 years and she's all about aspiration "“ the various careers she's dabbled in, not to mention the accompanying wardrobe and accessories, are evidence of that," a spokesman for Greenpeace explained.

"But is it really every young girl's dream to be responsible for clearing areas of priceless rainforest, accelerating climate change thanks to the resulting emissions and threatening endangered species?'


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