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Ten retailers urged to pull potentially toxic products

by on April 15, 2013

I think that this article is interesting when considering Ecological Modernization Theory, and the need to support companies that make environmentally safe products. Scientists recognize how powerful companies such as Walmart and Costco are, and the potential that they have to take action against dangerous chemicals. As one advocate was quoted as saying, “”The federal government isn’t minding the store, so the stores need to mind the store.” In this instance, a consumer’s buying power seems to be more powerful than action the government is willing to take, and the product manufacturers may be the most effective people to appeal to.

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  1. DannyTierney2016 permalink

    I definitely think that there is an undertone of ecological modernization thought here in this article. One quote that stuck out was “”Our companies go to great lengths to help Americans make informed decisions about which products are best for their families,” says Anne Kolton of the American Chemistry Council, which represents manufacturers of plastic and industrial chemicals.” This relates to the idea that citizens are capable of making smart and reasonable decisions about our environment and about potentially harmful supplies as long as they are given the correct information and literature to do so. If they are given these supplies, people can educate themselves so they can understand what is really in the products they are using.
    However, this article also notes the larger problem. “[R]etailers and their suppliers don’t necessarily know every chemical in their products, says Anne Steinemann, an environmental engineering professor at the University of Washington, Seattle.” Steinemann found that “fewer than 1% disclose all ingredients on the label or anywhere else. Even if an item lists “fragrance,” she says it doesn’t have to list each of the fragrance’s myriad chemicals.” This is very alarming to me because as important as it is to keep the consumer educated, it becomes very difficult to do so when suppliers and retailers can take short cuts and in a way lie about what is really in the products they are selling.

  2. Since my field is fashion, I love being able to connect environmental issues with this industry. Many fashion corporations are going “green” via ethical consumption or production methods. I immediately was struck by the article’s mention of polyvinyl chloride or PVC. I interned at Coach, Inc. headquarters this past summer in Global Merchandising for Handbags. A major aspect of my position was knowing the quality of the bags in order to label them correctly in the computers. A common material used in their bags is PVC, which they described to me as “plastic”. Although its predominately a leather company, it shocked me to know this was a harmful chemical. We use to critique Louis Vuitton for marketing bags at $1000 when they’re manufactured with 100% PVC. It shocks me that companies like Target or Wal-Mart, that sell cheap goods are making efforts to eliminate it. I didn’t even realize it was dangerous and I spent my whole summer in an office full of handbags! What does it mean that these ‘affordable’ places are making more eco-friendly strides than the luxury goods market? What does it mean for our consumer and our price market?

  3. I agree that this article does some ecological modernization undertones. After reading this article, it made me wonder what changes we should work for. Should we as consumers depend on ourselves to control what comes out of the stores, or should we push the government to cut its conflict of interests with these bigs companies and actually crack down on them? It seems like the latter would be nearly impossible to do. The government benefits from these companies is so many ways, that it does not seem to want to regulate them. I know that as consumers we can make a big difference, but it all depends on how many people are willing and able to shop responsibly.

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