[Act] Toys R Destroying Forests

The rainforests of Indonesia should be for species like the Sumatran tiger, not for throw-away toy packaging.

The rainforests of Indonesia should be for species like the Sumatran tiger, not for throw-away toy packaging.

© Greenpeace

How can a simple child’s toy packaging be responsible for deforestation? How is Barbie pushing the 400 last remaining Sumatran tigers to the brink of extinction?

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After we made a series of in-depth investigations and ran a number of independent tests we found hard evidence that packaging used for Barbie dolls and some other toys contained tropical hardwood fibers. Makers of Barbie, Mattel, and other toy manufacturers such as Lego and Hasbro buy their packaging paper from Indonesia’s largest pulp & paper conglomerate, APP. For the past seven years, repeated Greenpeace investigations have confirmed that APP is illegally razing Indonesian rainforests.

At the beginning of June we launched a global action calling on international toymakers to stop using paper packaging made from rainforest destruction. First, we targeted Mattel: We hung an enormous banner on the outside of Mattel’s American headquarters showing a disgruntled Ken telling Barbie that that was it, he was breaking up with her because she was helping kill Sumatran tigers. The news caused a sensation online, and we also staged street theater actions outside large toy stores in 10 regions across the world, protesting Barbie’s part in forest destruction. In Taiwan, for example, we had Barbie attack activists in tiger suits with a chainsaw outside a Toys R Us store.

What half a million shoppers can do

Our actions helped get everyone talking about how toymakers were helping destroy Indonesia’s rainforests and kill off the Sumatran tiger whose survival is hanging by a mere thread. We successfully rallied together more than half a million people to send emails to Mattel asking them to stop buying APP paper.

Then just a month into another campaign, this one against toymaker Lego, the company took the lead and announced that they would “clean up” their supply chain and make sure that none of their paper packaging was aiding tropical rainforest destruction. By October, both Mattel and Hasbro had also made similar promises. These companies were big customers of APP and their moves represent a huge step towards better forest protection.

Barbie, it's over

Dispelling doubt

From time to time, our supporters send us questions about our forest projects and so we have especially invited Forests campaigner Yang Jie to clear up some of your queries.

Q. It’s true that Barbie’s packaging was made from forest destruction, but how about Ken? Wasn’t his box also made from rainforest pulp? By targeting just Barbie, wasn’t this sex discrimination?

A. Actually we ran tests on Ken’s boxes too but surprisingly they didn’t contain any rainforest fibers, whereas Barbie’s did!

Q. Can you supply us with a list of “bad” brands so that we don’t become accomplices to forest destruction?

A. In Hong Kong, you can avoiding buying tissue paper brands Breeze and Virjoy because they are owned by APP and office paper brand Gold Flagship.

Q. APP is destroying the forests, but what about the Indonesian government?

A. A large company relies on its customers and its clients to survive and so one of the most effective ways to protect the rainforest is to put pressure on APP and its clients. But at the same time we are also pushing the Indonesian government’s Forestry Ministry to strengthen law enforcement and tighten policies etc.


2012 The fight for the forests continues

Action can definitely bring about environmental change. We are continuing to collect evidence of deforestation and bring it into the public sphere. For example, this March we released a report on an undercover investigation we made on APP, exposing how it was illegally logging ramin, an endangered and internationally-protected tree species. We will continue with our hard-hitting campaign against APP and its clients to make sure that Indonesia’s rainforests have the very best chance at survival.