Monday, February 18, 2008

War on Plastic Toys Escalates - In Slow Motion

Toys-R-Us has announced their intent to reduce PVC plastic toys in their stores. Well, whoopty-do.

So why am I not especially excited about this development?

Because it's merely a statement of intent. Anyone can announce good intentions. We all do it every January when we make New Year's resolutions. How's yours going so far?

It's being referred to as a change in policy. But all "policy" ever does in a corporate structure is provide a middle-management scapegoat for future whipping. We all know of companies who do things differently from their "official stated policy" on a daily basis, do we not? That policy becomes a P.R. safety valve for some spokesman to say "see, we have an official policy on this, we can't help it if some of our stores violated it."

According to Consumer Affairs, the Toys-R-Us press release also insists that "by the end of 2008, juvenile products must be produced without the addition of phthalates." Well, that's just great, but what about the products that they're going to be selling ALL YEAR LONG?

If there's nothing wrong with PVC products, then why get rid of them? And if there IS something wrong with them, why would you wait a YEAR to "phase them out" off your shelves?

PVC toys are already completely banned in the European Union, incidentally.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Plastic-hating Elitism?

According to Jamie O'Boyle, speaking in the article "Plastic Sacked" by Joan Klimkiewicz, "Consumers who shun plastic grocery bags tend to be college-educated urban dwellers who live near stores promoting such awareness, such as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods".

This is precisely why a voluntary and gradual attempt to switch over to cloth bags is just not going to work, however well intentioned. The plastic bags must be banned, not merely discouraged.

It may sound elitist to say, but there exists a vast section of the world's population which will never ever be made to functionally grasp why plastics should be avoided. And even if you do manage to drive this point into their heads, most are too lazy to act upon it. The decision of "paper, plastic, or cloth?" must be taken out of all our hands at the grocery store.