11 January 2007

In Which Jaime Reveals Herself To Be A Dirty Hippie

I'm going to take off my theatrically-inclined dingbat hat for a moment, to don my (blog-rare) environmentally-concerned dingbat hat, the one that goes along with the piles of Seventh Generation products filling up my apartment (which is run on green energy), and my beloved pair of Chico Bags.

The Times Style section has an article today, "Uncruel Beauty," on the new wave of 'Vegan Chic' clothing and accessories. Vegan attire is no longer hemp shirts and canvas tote bags, the article tells us, but now also $700 silkworm-cruelty-free silk suits and $275 wood pulp dresses. All well and good.

I don't really expect the Style writers to be highly versed in veganism, and I take their pronouncements like "Vegans, who may be thought of as extreme vegetarians, strive for a diet and way of life that is noninjurious to both animals and the environment, directly or through the processing of materials like leather, wool or silk" with a grain of salt. It might not be inaccurate, but it somehow really feels it. But it's fine. I can't afford a $475 fake leather bag, and I'm not a vegan, so none of this is super important to me. But then I get to this:

There is a strong incentive to offer vegan versions of products seen in more conventional stores, said Deborah Wasserman, a director of the Vegetarian Resource Group. It is not uncommon, she noted, to find sexy, form-fitting PVC biker jackets, plastic iPod cases and stilettos. Such styles appeal to environmentalists and dedicated vegans alike, she said, contributing to a measurable growth in the vegan fashion resources.


Aghast emphasis mine. Why aghast? Because no environmentalist in their right mind would buy anything PVC. PVC is the evil of all evils. Or one of them. Why? Let's have it from Grist's (wonderful) "Ask Umbra" column:

Polyvinyl chloride creates dioxins during manufacture, during the useful lifetime of the product, and upon disposal. Dioxin is a long-lived known carcinogen that settles in our fatty tissues and the fatty tissues of other animals. It also disrupts our hormonal systems and may cause reproductive- and immune-system damage in our bodies and the bodies of our fellow living beings. Dioxins cause particular harm to people living near PVC plants and waste incinerators, and, as I've said twice already, hurt cute animals.


Or more concisely, also Umbra's words: "No vinyl, that's final" and "No PVC for me." The full story's here.

I know that the uncertainty of "may cause" raises a lot of skeptical flags, but not all of the warnings are conjecture. This stuff is, for reals, bad news. So, no, Deborah Wasserman, sexy PVC jackets do not appeal to environmentalists. That plastic iPod case isn't such a winner, either. They're not meat, or murder, and there are probably plenty of people who avoid leather but love their PVCs, but they're most likely not environmentalists, at least not environmentalists who read anything.

For the record, I'm a vegetarian, but mostly by accident and out of habit. I am wearing leather shoes. But I do love this list.

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