25 August 2011

Big Brands are Killing Us Softly

Yesterday I read a good post on rejecting advertising as the dominant form of conversation, and rediscovering true human interaction. It mentioned those people who, in their desperate attempts to show supremacy, dress up in expensive brands which only leads to them becoming walking billboards for those powerful manufacturers whose products they don't need in the first place.

Whether they are jogging with the Puma skin-tight T-shirt in latest fashion or in their old no-brand T-shirt, they will achieve the same – they will be jogging to the same old effect.

Photo: Kick Photo
Thanks to the powerful brainwashing machine called Marketing, a great majority of the population is intoxicated by the will to show off their ownership of pointless and often way overpriced stuff, while bragging about it live, on Facebook, Тwitter, etc. 

I have to admit that I believe in what we call coincidents because I know they happen to us to open our eyes and to remind us we are on the right track. That is why it came as no surprise when soon after I learned about the toxic chemicals found in big brand names like Adidas, Calvin Klein, Lacoste and Ralph Lauren.
Photo: Bert van Diijk

It's nothing new, you'd say, we all know major corporations have moved their manufactures to China, to ruin their environment for a change (as if China is on another planet) but did you read well? The toxins, and more precisely, nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), were located in the products, according to a recent research of Greenpeace.

NPEs are harmful to the environment and to human health and their effects are not limited to the location of manufacturing. In fact, they have been proved to cause male fish to develop female characteristics, or in other words, nonylphenol ethoxylates alter sexual development and affect the reproductive system. 

Photo: Paul G

Nonyphenol ethoxylates can be found in some household detergents outside of Europe. In Europe, due to environmental concerns, they have been replaced by more expensive alcohol ethoxylates, which are less problematic environmentally.

But since NPEs are used as detergents in the industrial process, residual quantities of the chemicals are released when clothes are washed, and in this way they get unnoticeably to the countries where their use is prohibited.

According to the report by Greenpeace, NPEs were detected in 70% of the samples from 14 of the most popular brands in the U.S., including Adidas, Uniqlo, Calvin Klein, H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, Lacoste, Converse and Ralph Lauren.

A list of toxic chemical in household detergents can be found here. and while you are getting acquainted with it I am still wondering:

Isn't it just about the right time to stop slaving to our vanity and live without too much unnecessary bragging?


  1. We just watched a documentary on product placement in movies, and how movies have essentially become long commercials for big name brands. It's pretty sad.

    Also - in terms of toxic chemicals found in mass produced clothing and accessories, the numbers are astounding. As an sustainable fashion designer, I've done a lot of research on the chemicals found in conventional fabrics and materials, and how much the fashion industry is damaging the earth (and our health). Cotton alone is one of the worst. The pollutants produced from conventional cotton farms that leeches into the soil and our drinking water is awful. And most of the big name brands just don't care.

    Thanks for posting this. I love reading your pieces on important subjects like this - subjects that most blogs don't touch upon.


  2. Loved reading this :) What a wonderful and refreshing post, and so darn true! I never really began to think about how much damage it does until now. Its so hard sometimes not to be pulled into that mindset of wanting "brand things" especially when its everything you see around! Thank you for such an awesome post

    Veronica grace

  3. Ugh, so disgusting to think about so much poison being leeched into our environment. It's so horrible, and I'm so glad that most of my clothes are used. :) Some people don't like wearing used clothes, but they're the equivalent of recycling for clothing in my head. Plus, clothes in good condition are so much cheaper at Salvation Army than at brand-name stores! :D Saving money AND helping the environment - YAY! ;)

  4. I had seen a program about the chemicals in Chinese manufacturing plants harming the workers, but I didn't know the chemicals remained in the clothes and were released in the wash. I wish more companies would consider the health of the planet and all its inhabitants when they make manufacturing decisions.

  5. I can't stand the things with huge brand logos on them anyway!

  6. I completely agree. My kids hate anything with a giant label on the front and I'm super proud of that. I live in an area (southern CA) where keeping up with the Joneses is kind of an epidemic so I find myself going the other way--I avoid places like Pottery Barn/Anthropologie and refuse to get the latest gadget because I DON'T NEED IT!

  7. Amen to that Sonya...I loved this post. We have become a lost civilization with all this focus on material things...thank you for writing about this:)

  8. I am not a fan of big brand names and after reading you post I have another reason. I am a fan for handcrafted items, and I if I need something new I like to make it myself. Thanks for such an informative post.
    Everyday Inspired

  9. Right on, Sonia! I could not agree with you more. I keep wondering when the majority of my country will wake up and truly understand what they are supporting with each purchase. I lived in China when I was a child and I have a keen understanding of what is really going on over there...needless to say, I buy handmade and do my best to keep my home free of dangerous chemicals. I love that you wrote this.

  10. I loved this post, it's great to see bloggers using the format to speak out against the bad habits of big corporations, rather than trying to cosy up to them! The internet has so much potential for creating alternative spaces, thinking, ways of being, but often it doesn't work out like that!

    I haven't yet worked out how to eject brands/big business completely from my day-to-day life but I'm working on it. Part of that is my Careful Christmas Project which is about trying to take steps in the right direction: handmade, homemade, recycled gifts/deco etc.!

  11. I'm so sad when people, mostly women, spend their fortunes on brand clothing and accessories. they could support more handmade artists with that money but they rather give it to those who already have too much. Hearing about working conditions and toxins only makes me disliking them more. but I have an optimistic feeling that this won't go on forever. People are more green thinking and handmade business is getting quite popular.

  12. The old saying 'out of sight out of mind' supports so much of the high fashion industry. so few see the reality of what it takes to create these products. It is wonderful that this is changing and these realities are becoming known.