Fertility + Fashion
Along my journey, I have come across an infinite amount of resources citing very mainstream companies responsible for using toxic chemicals known to harm and/or poison our earth and our bodies. Because I feel personally affected by this now, I feel compelled to share.
Current politics aside, we vote as a country every four years. Yet as consumers, we all purchase things year round whether for business, leisure or luxury. To me, personally, our buying decisions are much more powerful in both quantity and in direct financial endorsement than a single vote every handful of years could ever wish to be. To be clear, I am certainly not discouraging anyone to vote. Please, never waive your rights or your power. Period. But just the same, never waive your buying power or right to be an informed consumer. We are living in a time where we cannot afford to not give a f*uck. And while I realize it might be an uphill battle or nearly impossible to be ethical in every single buying decision we make for the rest of our lives, being a conscience consumer should still be a priority for all and here's why: our buying decisions directly impact the shape of new and existing industries.
According to The Rise of the Conscious Consumer: Why businesses need to open up: "Customers are demanding transparency as they take an increasing interest in the ethical practices of those they buy from." And while "the tide is turning; increasing awareness around these issues has led to a rise in what is known as conscious consumption, a movement of people who seek out ways to make positive decisions about what to buy and look for a solution to the negative impact consumerism is having on our world." (The Guardian, Jessi Baker) And while this is a magnificent start, like any movement, its people truly do fan the flame and keep it alive.
Baker goes on to explain, that "In an increasingly open, digital world where authenticity is the buzzword of choice, businesses must keep up with growing demands for ethical behaviour and transparency in everything from employee rights and gender discrimination to the supply chain." And he couldn't be more spot on. As we omit our poor ethical buying decisions to the Walmarts, Target or others who have been exposed for use of toxic chemicals such as Victoria's Secret or Uniqlo, said companies will be either forced to move with the trending demand for ethical buying, labor, dumping or use of toxic chemicals or die.
Based on a study from YouGov and the Global Poverty Project, 74% of those surveyed would pay an extra 5% for their clothes if there was a guarantee workers were being paid fairly and working in safe conditions. If 5% doesn’t sound like a lot to you, please do take a moment to consider that the fashion industry could easily remove 125 million people out of poverty by adding just 1% of it's profits to workers’ wages.
On a more intimate note, I think I speak for most women I know from 12 to 40 when I say I have shopped at or own mostly Victoria's Secret bras, panties, swimwear, fragrance or workout apparel. That's a lot of fertile gals! VS's designs are vibrant, mostly on trend but above all -- toxic. I stumbled on a not so recent article of a study formally conducted by GreenPeace exposing the lingerie powerhouse for using toxic chemicals known to harm female fertility and as a consumer for literal decades, I could not be more disgusted. For a company to profit from the exploitive images and use of women, to offer toxic apparel to unsuspecting consumers and cause physical harm to said woman who flock to their stores and make them literal moguls is both offensive, unethical and appalling.
In the article published in 2013, Toxic chemicals found in Victoria’s Secret underwear may damage fertility, eventually lead me directly to the GreenPeace investigative findings article: Toxic Threads: The Big Fashion Stitch Up. Where it further explains the study: "The investigation was expanded to include 20 global fashion brands – including Armani, Levi's and Zara – as well as more hazardous chemicals. A total of 141 items of clothing were purchased in April 2012 in 29 countries and regions worldwide from authorised retailers. The chemicals found included high levels of toxic phthalates in four of the garments, and cancer-causing amines from the use of certain azo dyes in two garments. NPEs were found in 89 garments (just under two thirds of those tested), showing little difference from the results of the previous investigation into the presence of these substances in sports clothing that was conducted in 2011. In addition, the presence of many other different types of potentially hazardous industrial chemicals was discovered across a number of the products tested." I've shared the GreenPeace findings and official slideshow from the study, below.
Please, be mindful when you shop. The mega corps of our generation care more about their bottom line than they do us, the very consumer and reason why they're in business. Let's remind them who has the buying power with each purchase we make. There are always alternatives and I can only hope you feel compelled to take your time to find them. Our future quite literally depends on it.