Barbie Dolls Made From Recycled Plastic
Does anyone remember the feeling of walking into a toy store as a child and being overwhelmed by the amount of colours and options available? The production of childrens’ toys is a growing industry, with over $90 billion in profits ($300 billion if you include video games). While toys are a necessity to help mentally stimulate developing children, parents often do not know what to do after they’ve been outgrown. Most municipal recycling programs do not accept rigid plastic or molded plastic toys, so just leaving them on the curb is not an effective solution.
One way we can help curb the amount of strain we create for recycling plants and waste management is to provide eco-friendly alternatives for the toys on the market for children today.
Beloved toy manufacturer, Mattel, has recently announced a new “Barbie Loves the Ocean” collection; a line of Barbie dolls that are made completely out of recycled plastic waste collected from the ocean. The dolls will also come with unique accessories made from 90% recycled plastic. Mattel uses recycled plastic flakes that are sourced from the U.S.-based company Envision Plastics, which in turn is sourcing raw materials from local collection points in the coastal region of Mexico’s Baja peninsula, in order to recover plastic before it even enters the ocean.
Mattel is helping reduce continued production of plastics that are difficult to recycle, and reinventing the toy industry as a whole. The British Heart Foundation’s survey found that 28% of UK parents admitted to discarding toys in perfect working order and 80% of toys end up in a garbage pile. Given the rate at which plastic is being produced and disposed of, it won’t be long before our planet starts to face the heavy repercussions of this wasteful behaviour. Mattel is helping reduce, and eventually eliminate, continued production of “virgin” plastics that are difficult to recycle, and reinventing the toy industry as a whole.
Another familiar toy company that’s making the stride towards a more eco-friendly alternative is Lego. Lego has come out with a bioplastic collection, which features sustainable plastic pieces in the shapes of leaves, trees and bushes, all created from a bio-polyethylene sourced sustainably from sugarcane. Lego also unveiled in 2021 a prototype for the first ever Lego brick made from recycled plastic.
As you can see, a lot of large household names are taking action to reduce carbon impact on the environment, while also providing customers with an arguably healthier alternative as well.
In a test of 248 different toys, 92% were categorized as a “serious risk”, due to the content of hazardous chemicals present in soft plastic toys; phthalates being just one.
What can you, as a consumer, do to help avoid contributing to this growing problem of plastic waste from toys?
Reduce: Reduce the amount of single-use plastic toys you purchase. Consider the lifespan before you invest in them, and consider eco-friendly toy alternatives (like the recycled plastic Barbie collection or the bioplastic Lego bricks).
Reuse: Try to avoid throwing out toys if they are slightly broken or dirty (rinsing with soap and water and a little coating of paint can go a long way to help extend the lifespan of your toys).
Recycle: Consider donating your old and discarded toys to thrift stores or charitable organizations that can help put toys in the hands of those in need, rather than in the landfills.