- The Washington Times - Updated: 11:35 a.m. on Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Children — and adults — who play with Barbie dolls will soon have climate activist Greta Thunberg staring back at them through eyes made from algae, bamboo and clay instead of plastic.

Mattel announced Tuesday it will go plastic-free by 2030, starting with a new limited run of EcoWarrior Barbies to be released Oct. 1.

The dolls made from all-natural materials will have the features of “environmental heroes” such as Ms. Thunberg, Julia Butterfly Hill, Phoebe Plummer, Neimonte Nenquimo and Hollywood actress Daryl Hannah, who have donated the use of their names, images and likenesses to the toy company.

The dolls kick off Mattel’s campaign to abandon recycled plastic materials, lobby for a federal ban on nonessential plastics and go plastic-free by 2030, the California-based toymaker said. The company plans to convert all of its facilities to non-plastic manufacturing.

“We have made more than a billion plastic Barbies, and enough is enough,” Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz said. “With our plastic-free commitment, we denounce the empty promises of plastic recycling and take a bold step towards real ecological sustainability. Only sustainably produced toys can provide sustainable joy.”

In addition to Barbie, Mattel makes the toy brands American Girl, Fisher-Price and Hot Wheels.

All plastic components in Mattel toys will be replaced with “only compostable natural materials like mushroom mycelium, algae, seaweed, clays, wood cellulose, and bamboo” over the next few years, said Pamela Gill-Alabaster, Mattel’s head of sustainability.

“It will revolutionize the industry and set new standards for conscientious play,” Ms. Gill-Alabaster said.

In addition to Ms. Thunberg and other living activists, Mattel said the new MyCelia Barbie: EcoWarrior Edition dolls will be modeled after “more than 2,500 dead activists from around the world who have been tragically lost while protecting nature in the last decade.”

Ms. Hannah, who starred in “Splash,” “Steel Magnolias” and “Kill Bill: Vol. 1,” will serve as the brand’s ambassador for global sustainability in addition to modeling one of the new Barbies.

“Barbie has changed in many ways since I was a girl, but under the surface, she’s still toxic,” said Ms. Hannah, 62. “Now, when she’s done being used, instead of persisting forever as a poison Barbie will be able to return to the earth, just like all living things.”

Mattel is enjoying a surge of success with the release of “Barbie,” starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as the iconic dolls Barbie and Ken. Produced in part by Mattel Films, the movie has earned nearly $800 million globally in the first two weekends of its theatrical release that ended Sunday.

The company already has plans for 17 movies based on its toy brands in the wake of the film’s success.

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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