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The least sustainable Barbie

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

The new Barbie movie premiered on July 21, although it has been in everyone's mouths for months thanks to its impeccable marketing strategy. The problem is that nobody has considered how polluting it is to mass-produce all its merchandise.

Moviegoers and subject-matter experts pointed out that Barbie's live-action movie would be a success when it was announced that Greta Gerwig would be its director. She's known for films like Lady Bird (2017) and Little Women (2019), and she has always marked her difference with her films and the role that women have in them. However, her greatest success has come with Barbie (2023).

The famous Mattel doll has been an icon of pop culture and fashion for decades, but with the release of her new movie, a consumerism fever has been unleashed for all those merchandising products related to the world of Barbie. However, behind this boom lies what should really concern us: the mass creation of any consequence has a high environmental cost and is highly polluting.

Backpacks, clothing, toys, accessories, makeup, sheets, mobile phone cases... All kinds of products have been created as a result of the film by Mattel in collaboration with various brands, taking advantage of the enthusiasm of Barbie fans to boost sales and profits.

The problem is that as is often the case, the ecological impact of mass-producing these items has been overlooked. As much as Mattel has released a collection of dolls made from 90% recycled plastics or even a Barbie named after primatologist Jane Goodall, that doesn't change the impact its products can have on the planet.

The manufacturing, transport and disposal of old merchandising products create a considerable carbon footprint, contributing to the environmental crisis we have been facing for decades. When creating new products in large quantities, it often results in the use of a significant amount of natural resources and energy, which can lead to the production of waste and CO₂ emissions. It's important to remember that many of these products are made from plastics, metals, and synthetic textiles that are derived from non-renewable sources.

The fact that Barbie (2023) is a global phenomenon implies that its products are distributed worldwide through ships, planes, or trucks, generating significant CO₂ emissions due to the consumption of fossil fuels that these vehicles use for their distribution. This is because these products are usually produced in countries where labor is paid at low prices, such as China or India, increasing the distance to the points of sale.

Once the excitement of the movie has worn off and the novelty wears off, many of these items that haven't sold - or even those that have - will end up in giant landfills, contributing to the accumulation of solid and plastic waste on our planet. The slow and often non-biodegradable degradation of these products further aggravates the problem of environmental and marine pollution.

The deluge of merch that accompanies movies and major entertainment events perfectly reflects the culture of excessive consumption in which we live, a culture that rarely considers the environmental consequences. That is why as a society we must reflect before making impulse purchases, promoting responsible and sustainable consumption.

Large companies, which are the ones that pollute the most, should consider more ecological alternatives for the production of their products, as well as the use of recycled and/or sustainable materials, local production, and the design of products with greater durability and quality. Only through responsible consumption and the adoption of more sustainable practices, we can ensure a cleaner, safer, and healthier future for generations to come.

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