A whole bunch of prominent media outlets were fooled.

Barbie's Decomposition Pit

Saw some news that Barbie-maker Mattel might be going plastic-free? Unfortunately, according to Mattel, it's definitely not true.

As The New York Times reports, storied toymaker Mattel was forced to do damage control this week when an elaborate media ruse carried out by an environmental activism group called the Barbie Liberation Organization (BLO) convinced several media outlets that, as part of a company-wide effort to go plastic-free by 2023, Mattel was to launch a plastic-free line of "EcoWarrior Barbies" made from compostable materials like mushroom, clay, and algae.

Complete with a flurry of so-called press and campaign materials, fake — but very convincing — Mattel webpages, "Mattel-corporate.com" email addresses, and the involvement of the real actress, model, and environmental activist Darryl Hannah, the hoax was so well-executed that publications like People, The Washington Times, and the Dow Jones Newswires accidentally reported that the phony campaign was real, according to the NYT.

"The Washington Times has confirmed from Mattel Corp.," reads an editor's note from the Washington Times apologizing for the mishap, "that the article about new Barbie dolls that appeared here was based on an elaborate media hoax involving spoofed email addresses, a faked news release, doctored images, fictitious quotations and a YouTube video that appears to show actress Daryl Hannah announcing the new product line."

"Those were duplicates — not Mattel actual sites," Mattel told the NYT of the phony websites in an email, adding that the "hoax" had "nothing to do with Mattel."

Rewriting Recycling

We really can't stress enough how impressive this fake campaign was. From the phony press release — complete with fake quotes from real Mattel executives — to Hannah's beachfront appearance in one of two "campaign" videos, BLO left no stone unturned.

Speaking to the NYT, BLO representative Mike Bonanno confirmed that the hoax was perpetrated in response to Mattel's 2022 promise to reduce plastic packaging by 25 percent per product by the year 2030, using "100 percent recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastic materials" in both products and packages as part of their effort.

As a growing body of research continues to find, recycling is wildly ineffective, and won't really make Mattel any more sustainable in a meaningful way. BLO is hoping that its hoax calls out the flaws in Mattel's big promises.

"What we're fighting against," Bonanno told the NYT, "is half a century of misinformation from the plastics industry and from fossil fuel companies and interests that are trying to convince people that recycling is a viable solution to the plastic waste problem."

More on recycling: Scientists Say Recycling Has Backfired Spectacularly

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