Barbie items are much smaller than other Role-Playing and Imaginative Play toys. Especially the play kitchens, play stores, play schools, banks etc. that are popular buys for pre-K and early elementary school children.
Due to the smaller size of barbie items, they have less environmental impact during manufacture, shipping, stocking, and storage. Also, because they can be played with over many years instead of as temporary, age-appropriate toys they create less consumerist churn.
Barbies can be played with in age-appropriate ways from age three forward, through middle-school and into adulthood. Cataloging the many age-appropriate ways to play with barbies is the very reason this blog was created.
Based on the “it’s little” logic one might counter that traditional dollhouses are even smaller (1:12 scale) and therefore, even better. This is a valid arguement based on the principle of physical size. We, however, did not choose dollhouse scale because it has different problems for us – namely that of being hard for adult-sized hands to play along and having almost no clothing options, few building options (just houses, no movie theaters, etc).
When barbie furniture breaks, polymer clay is used to recreate parts and they are glued whole again.
Barbie dolls are restored by professional restorers as well as hobbyists. Their hair replaced, their makeup repainted and broken limbs replaced.
When barbie sets appear at garage sales with missing parts, barbie players need only go onto ebay to find other incomplete sets offered as replacement parts.
Barbie stuff does not end up in land-fills or recycling machines unless a series of ignorant and accidental moves take place. Instead barbies, their clothes, cars, houses, and other accoutrements end up on eBay where they are clamored over by collectors, adult players and young girls starting new collections.
Leah’s collection is about 75% used and about 25% new. Her new stuff will never be thrown in a trash can. It will be sold or passed down. Her used stuff ranges in age from weeks old to decades old.
Barbie houses manufactured and sold in the 60’s fetch a nice price on ebay everyday. Stuff from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s on up to the present does too!!
So while plastic gets a bad rap these days and wooden toys seem to be the material of choice among trendy parents, keep in mind that barbies are sustainable and have been handed down time and again for fifty years.