Vivienne Westwood: PVC Debate

  

Lady Dragon
Vivienne Westwood: Lady Dragon

Vivienne Westwood recently teamed up with Melissa to create a new shoe collection. “The Fashion Audit: 02/02/09” in The Independent claims that these shoes are made from recycled rubber. The shoe company offers limited information on the details of the environmental factors associated with the plastic. One thing for sure, the shoes, like all Melissa shoes, are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Now, I am no expert on PVC, that’s for sure, but I seem to recall the material being associated with some pretty serious safety and environmental risks. What’s changed? Apparently, at least one PVC manufacturer (Grendene), has been producing sustainable PVC since 1996?

Vancouver based Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) takes a clear stand against the use of PVC in its products. According to MEC,

“Polyvinyl chloride, known as “PVC” or simply as “vinyl”, is a common compound used in thousands of products. But for us and the planet, it’s bad stuff. During manufacture it produces potent carcinogens and toxins including dioxins, chlorine residue, and heavy-metal pollutants. Over their lifespan, PVC products can off-gas and leak some of their dangerous additives. PVC is difficult to recycle; most of it ends up in landfills. When burned, it releases further dioxins and gases such as hydrogen chloride.”

 

According to Melissa,

 

“Plastic is the chosen medium to communicate technology and renewal”

“Because our products are created from mono-materials they can be easily disassembled and recycled. Solid, liquid and gas residues, left over from our production process, are recycled and dealt with in-house. Nothing leaves the factory without being treated, resulting in practically zero waste.”

 

The company sources its PVC from Grendene, whose site offers no real information on the material. You can read the company’s Code of Conduct here, and a statement on PVC here

 

I have sent in an email to the people at Melissa, Vivienne Westwood, and Grendene requesting more information on PVC and will hopefully hear back and write more on the subject at a later date.

 

You can find “The Fashion Audit: 02/02/09” by Harriet Walker here

You can read more on Melissa’s sustainable plastic dreams, and the designers working with the company here

 

Sweated Labour, Dell, Transparency and this Blog

 

The issue of transparency is an important one. So, here’s a little blogging transparency … I write this ethical fashion blog on my ‘Made in China’ Espresso Brown Dell Inspiron 1525.

 

The National Labour Committee released a report today titled “High Tech Misery in China: The Dehumanization of Young Workers Producing Our Computer Keyboards” Sure enough, Dell is one of the companies manufacturing products in the Meitai Plastics & Electronics factory highlighted in the report in Dongguan City, Guangdong China.

 

According to the report, the base salary at the factory is 64 cents/hour. Minus room and board, workers take home 41cents/hour. Tax all in, my ‘made to order’ laptop set me back $620.48.

 

Other companies producing in the factory include Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Microsoft and IBM.

 

You can view the NLC report here

AHRC: Call for more attention for handloom weavers suffering from hunger and Tuberculosis in Varanasi‏

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released a ‘Hunger Alert’ update today regarding the state of poverty and TB amongst handloom weavers in Varanasi, India. According to the report, the weavers are suffering from lack of medical attention, government neglect and extreme poverty and hunger. You can read the entire alert, as well as view a letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health and World Health Organisation calling for their intervention here

 

What does this have to do with sustainable fashion design?

To say that the textile sector in India is vast would be an understatement. A decline in India’s handloom weaving industry has left these weavers without work to provide for their family, and created a situation where they are too ill to change their circumstance. Human Rights violations against the handloom weavers in Varanasi cannot be ignored. Sustainable solutions must include all aspects of the industry.

 

On a related note, the Centre for Sustainable Fashion released information this week regarding the Shared Talent: India competition. This competition will showcase sustainable textiles in India. For more information on the competition, see here.

 

Source:  AHRC and CSF