1-2 working day delivery from Limerick just €4.95 (island of Ireland). Click for details.

1 billion Barbies (and sustainability)

Barbie-mania has hit! I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm looking forward to it, because it looks fun.

And I'm enjoying the neon-pink playfulness it's adding to our world this summer! So I'm definitely not writing this to detract from that.

Rather, while you're thinking about Barbie anyway, I'd like to add some interesting facts about her and sustainability to the mix...hope you like them!

1 billion Barbies

Ruth Handler created Barbie in 1959, and named her after her daughter Barbara (and Ken after her son Kenneth). Since then 1 billion Barbies have been made!

In other words, if we stopped making Barbies now, we'd still have enough for 1 Barbie for every other child in the world (2 billion children), or 5 Barbies for every child in the developed world where most Barbies are located (only 200 million children).

Here's an April Fools news story I made about this:

Mattel's shareholders would feel ill at the thought of reducing Barbie production. But we keep talking about moving to a circular economy, and:

  1. Circular economy is not some side-line while we carry-on churning-out new stuff;
  2. Circular economy means making fewer new things in favour of more reuse and repair.
So at some stage, the global toy industry is going to have to figure out how to make at least some of its living from reuse and repair. I've asked the big toy makers this question in committee meetings and at conferences - including Mattel, LEGO, Hasbro, Melissa & Doug - and they responded as if I was speaking an alien language.

So we've a long way to go...and Jiminy exists to help move us in the right direction: by empowering you to vote with your purchase for the world you want, and by sharing our knowledge - and our vision for toys' sustainable future - with the world and the global toy industry. Thank you for being a part of this!

Sustainable Barbie?

We are not an elitist, 'Scandi-chic' toystore - we're a mainstream toystore, just the 'eco' version! So if we could get Barbies-that-would-sell made from safe recycled plastic, we'd stock them in a heartbeat.

Recycled plastic Jane Goodall Barbie

Mattel has put out some recycled-plastic Barbies, including the Jane Goodall doll pictured above. We've tried to buy them, but not been able to. Mattel products 'trickle-down' to Ireland via UK distributors, who've either told us they don't stock the eco lines "because they don't sell", or have told us we have to order an unmanageably-huge quantity for a small business.

It's great big toy makers are experimenting and learning about climate-kind materials like safe recycled plastics! We struggle a bit to watch them treat 'eco' as a market niche, and make the less-popular toys 'eco', not their bestsellers. From experience, 'eco' has to be the secondary message about a toy; 'the child will love it' has to be the headline.

But we believe they'll get there in the next 5 years - to every Barbie being safe recycled plastic or bioplastic, so we can all buy what we like and know our gift is protecting that child's planet and future, not the opposite.

We exist to help bring that day about!

Fix your broken Barbie with us

We have this lovely Barbie repair demo using FixIts so couldn't resist sharing it, for the week that's in it!

Browse all our repair hacks here.

I started Jiminy in 2018 as my environmental activism. I was sick of the plastic wrapped in plastic shipped 22,000km from China. I wanted to make it easy for people like me to get locally-made toys from natural or recycled materials.

Jiminy exists to inspire a playfully sustainable world...thanks for being part of that!


Leave a comment

Name .
Message .

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published