“I'm a Barbie girl, in the Barbie world, life in plastic… it's fantastic…”
If you are an eighties or nineties kid, I am pretty sure this annoying song rang loud and clear in your head. From being a little girl’s best birthday gift to becoming somewhat of a status symbol, to attracting flack for perpetuating Euro-centric beauty standards, Barbie has stood the test of time.
One of the reasons for Barbie's popularity has been the efforts her creator company Mattel made to keep their ear close to the ground and re-strategize when necessary. Recently, Mattel made the headlines after launching a new collection called Barbie Loves the Ocean: a first-of-its-kind fashion collection made from ocean-bound plastic. According to Barbie’s official website, the new collection includes dolls, beach shack play sets and accessories made from 90% recycled plastic – a big plus for green-conscious parents. The price of the toys in the collection range from between $9.99 to $19.99 and reflect Mattel’s goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials across all their products and packaging by 2030. This is in addition to Mattel’s evolving catalogue of purpose-driven brands encouraging green consciousness.
This is not the first time a mainstream toy brand has dabbled in eco-friendly products. In 2019, Lego launched a tree house kit made with plant-based materials to further the toy industry’s mission to cater to environmentally responsible parents. The tree house kits were made with Lego’s new polyethylene - produced from sustainably sourced sugar cane. Much like Mattel, Lego announced that their mission was to make all Lego products entirely sustainable by 2030.
These recent developments in the toy industry echo changing consumer preferences in the world we live in. The UN has officially named this decade the ‘Decade of Ecosystem Restoration’ and toy brands like Barbie and Lego are investing large chunks of cash in R&D to keep up with their target audience.
According to NBC, retail analysts believe sustainability-minded shoppers are a force to be reckoned with. More and more people are becoming conscious of what they put in their bodies and in the world. Needless to say, awareness of consumerism's impact on the environment is at an all-time high. A surprising trend to note here is that many lesser known toy brands were much faster to jump on the ‘green toys’ trend. Brands such as OkoNorm, Tender Leaf Toys and PlanToys have been applying innovative eco-friendly methods and using green materials to contribute towards a sustainable world. With bigger brands joining the green league, it is safe to say that the green consumer is slowly but surely changing the retail landscape.
This shift is just not limited to the toy industry. Brands across different industries are committing to the mission to revolutionise commodities and communities with sustainable options. From packaging to tobacco to toys –brands are making the shift to relatively less harmful and environmentally safe options to court the green-conscious consumer of today. More variety means that average buyers like you and I will no longer have to wrangle with hefty price tags in the name of organic/environmentally friendly/sustainable. Clean, green, and affordable times ahead folks!
Taniya Hasan is a content marketer.