GET INVOLVED     |     ISSUES     |     NEWSROOM     |     RESOURCES     |     ABOUT US     |     CONTRIBUTE     |     SEARCH  


Blogging Against Barbie


Dan Mitchell

New York Times

May 10, 2008


MOST of Eco Child’s Play, a blog for environmentally conscious parents, is concerned with tips and advice about products like nontoxic pacifiers and children’s clothing made from bamboo (

Every so often, though, something raises the ire of the generally positive blog. Usually, the source of anger is some form of greenwashing — the increasingly common corporate practice of making dubious environmental claims that are more about marketing than saving the planet.

When greenwashing is aimed at adults, environmentalists generally find it annoying and sometimes — if it is sufficiently transparent — amusing. But when children are the targets, the environmentalists find it infuriating. So when Mattel recently issued a news release promoting its new line of Barbie BCause accessories for the doll — hats, handbags and the like — it was too much for the blogger on Eco Child’s Play, Jennifer Lance.

“The eco-conscious young girls I know of steer clear of Barbie,” she wrote. “Truly green families will not be fooled by Mattel’s greenwashing.”

According to Mattel’s news release (, the “playful and on-trend Barbie BCause collection repurposes excess fabric and trimmings from other Barbie doll fashions and products which would otherwise be discarded, offering eco-conscious girls a way to make an environmentally friendly fashion statement with cool, patchwork-style accessories.”

The whole thing is “pretty ironic given that Barbie dolls themselves are made out of plastic and are packaged in even more plastic,” Jen Phillips wrote on Mother Jones magazine’s blog, the Blue Marble ( “And not the kind of plastic you can throw in the recycling bin, either.”

Aiming ads at children is one thing. Using them in advertisements meant to appeal to adults is another. In February, Lloyd Alter of noted in a post titled, “The Semiotics of Greenwashing,” the use of children in ads for the coal and cement industries.

Citing research finding that children are far more environmentally concerned than adults, Mr. Alter said that such ads were meant to convey the idea that “if the kids are saying it, then it must be green.”

This article is copyrighted material, the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner




Email Address: State:

Subscribers receive no more than

1-2 emails per week



CCFC does not accept corporate funding.

We rely on member donations for support.

Click Here to Contribute




Website Designed & Maintained By: AfterFive by Design, Inc.
CCFC Logo And Fact Sheets By:

Copyright 2004 Commercial Free Childhood. All rights reserved