Another day, another chemical scare: this time, baby clothing. According to the NGO Green America, there are 8,000 chemicals used to manufacture clothing and some of those are gonna harm your kid. That's why the group is going after Carter's, the biggest manufacturer of kids' clothing, including OshKosh B’gosh! Classic shakedown? You tell me.
You really have to give these guys credit. Just when you thought it was safe to conclude that NRDC and the Environmental
Worthless Working Group (1) had perfected the art of the corporate shakedown, all of a sudden there's a new sheriff in town, and his guns are blazing.
A group of anti-GMO (anti-you-name-it, really) zealots called Green America would seem to a different type of green in its sight, much to the consternation of Carter's - a major manufacturer of children's clothing since 1902. Carter's - the maker of the wildly popular OshKosh B’gosh brand, finds itself squarely in the crosshairs of the group, which issued a press release calling for Carter's to "Improve Transparency on Chemical Usage and Eliminate Toxins That Harm Workers and Consumers."
Here is the group's mission statement (left) and my personal interpretation of it (right). The group's press release issued a press release calling
(Left) Green America's mission statement. (Right) A more honest version?
The group raked in $4 million in 2017 using scare tactics like this:
And if the chemicals in your home aren't dangerous enough, now you have to worry about the "8,000 chemicals" in clothing for babies and kids. Or do you? Let's look at the group's claims:
Over 8,000 chemicals are used in textile manufacturing.
Show me the list.
Some of the most commonly used dyes are known carcinogens.
Show me that list too. And how carcinogenicity was determined.
Major industry players are often not transparent about what chemicals are used, and we do not have sufficient understanding of the impacts of the thousands of chemicals used on human and environmental health.
This statement presupposes that the chemicals used in clothing have an impact on human health. But where is the evidence of such harm? Where is the information on exposure to the chemicals?
Workers – and their communities – are exposed to chemicals that can cause cancer, reproductive health problems, and other diseases.
More nonsense. Workers, their communities, (and everyone else) are exposed to chemicals that can cause cancer - when given in enormous doses to tumor-prone rats (2) over the course of their lifetimes. Based on these claims we would expect to see soaring rates of cancer in the general population.
Except we don't. Cancer rates have remained stable for decades (3).
Age-adjusted cancer rates by year. Source: American Cancer Society
Carter's is the leading retailer of baby and children's clothes in the US, but they are not a leader in transparency around toxins in their clothing.
So, what can we do about this non-problem? That one's easy:
Carter’s has one line of baby clothes that are made with GOTS certified organic cotton – but has not shared plans to clean up the rest of its baby or children’s clothes.
It's the usual tripe - buy organic, which has been overwhelmingly successful, despite no evidence that it makes any difference to human health. But it does make a difference to the bottom line to the companies who sell organic nonsense. The "organic" craze has reached the insanity phase but keeps on going:
Finally, there's this:
Carter’s is a leader in selling baby clothes in the country. Join us in encouraging them to become leaders in cleaning up the company’s supply chain and producing clothing that is better for people and the planet.
Translation: Please start screaming at a kid's clothing manufacturer for manufacturing kid's clothing. Then we can turn up the heat and maybe they'll pay us off to go bother someone else instead. And in the meantime, just let your kids run around naked. Can't be too safe, right?
Damn, this job can certainly make you jaded. Nope, I'm not kidding.
(1) EWG pulled this same game in 2014 with Johnson and Johnson over a minuscule (and harmless) amount of the preservative quaternium-15 ( breaks down to formaldehyde, the actual preservative), which J&J had used for 60 years in its No More Tears Shampoo. Instead of fighting the junk science/extortion tactics used by EWG, J&J folded up like a $3 lawn chair. Who knows how much they paid off EWG, but the shampoo is now on the EWG Verified™ list. The press release where EWG and J&J were practically tongue kissing in front of the cameras was truly hurl-worthy.
(2) For our take on the Sprague-Dawley rat as a cancer model see Think YOUR Job Sucks? Meet The Sprague-Dawley Rat.
(3) The uptick in cancer in men in the early 90s is an artifact. This is when the PSA test was introduced. More cancers, which would not have been counted before this time, were diagnosed.