Friday, February 01, 2019

Plastic fibres that pollute our oceans, factories using toxic chemicals, clothes that never decompose: Devotees think they’re saving the planet but we reveal the guilty secret about vegan fashion

Head along the High Street and it’s hard to miss the biggest trend of the year. From Greggs’ sausage-less sausage rolls to McDonald’s meat-free Happy Meals, veganism is going mainstream.

But it’s not just confined to what we eat. According to the Vegan Society, veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals — not just for food but for clothing and any other purpose as well. Tapping into that market, earlier this month, Marks & Spencer announced it was launching a range of vegan shoes featuring 350 styles for men, women and children.

Billed as ‘guilt-free’ purchases, they include everything from tasselled loafers to stilettos.

And the company is far from being alone in responding to the growing demand for animal-friendly fashion.

Fashion giant ASOS has banned suppliers from using animal-derived materials including mohair, silk and fur. Next month will see the first ever Vegan Fashion Week in Los Angeles — and even the Duchess of Sussex, has spoken of her penchant for vegan ‘leather’ trousers.

All well and good in theory, but how ‘guilt free’ are the vegan materials being used in place of traditional, animal-sourced ones?

Take fake fur, for example. Last month, the head of a parliamentary inquiry into the fashion industry called for it to be relabelled ‘plastic fur’ to make consumers aware of what they are buying.

‘A lot of big retailers and brands have removed animal fur from their products but simply replaced it with plastics,’ said Mary Creagh, chairwoman of the Commons environmental audit committee.

Made from fossil fuels, not only will fake fur never biodegrade, but it is made of polyester, a plastic-based fabric also commonly used to make fleeces.

Washing the material loosens plastic microfibres, which end up in the world’s oceans.

The tiny fibres — thinner than a human hair — are then eaten by plankton and shellfish and can ultimately be consumed by humans.

And what about those vegan shoes? Sure, they may contain no leather, but a spokesperson for M&S reveals they are made from a mixture of ‘synthetic materials’ including polyurethane and polyester. In other words, more plastic.

The company says ‘all M&S shoes are designed to last’ and points out that its vegan range contains a ‘proportion’ of recycled materials.

The company added: ‘We encourage our customers to give their footwear a second life through our recycling scheme, Shwopping, which has seen us recycle 30 million items to date.’

There are similar issues with materials used to replace wool. Most of the mainstream replacements are plastic-based, such as acrylic and polyester.

As for silk — a no-go fabric for vegans because it involves killing silk worms — the cocktail of chemicals used to manufacture rayon, a common alternative, is so toxic it has been blamed for poisoning workers and wiping out waterways globally.

All of which is why some experts are warning consumers not to assume they are saving the planet simply by buying a vegan item of clothing.

‘While vegan shoes, clothing and fabrics sound great we mustn’t confuse vegan with always being environmentally-friendly or even people-friendly,’ says Rachelle Strauss, environmental campaigner and founder of the annual awareness campaign Zero Waste Week.

‘The danger comes if “vegan” is used as a way to sell more fast, cheap fashion. If that happens then there will be a cost further down the line, whether it’s cheap labour or the use of cheap plastics that are likely, at some point in the manufacturing process, to use toxic chemicals.

‘The way these items are made, and what they are made from, is crucial. If it’s wrong to kill animals for leather, then we have to look at the wider picture.

‘Isn’t it also wrong to kill fish, birds and other creatures with the pollution caused in the manufacture of these synthetic materials, and the fact that once worn and discarded they will never biodegrade?’

An estimated £140 million-worth (around 350,000 tonnes) of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year, with more than half of it made from plastic-based fabrics.

Vegans don't wear fur because they believe often times animals are treated cruelly and exploited, however alternative fabrics used for faux fur never biodegrade    +11
Vegans don't wear fur because they believe often times animals are treated cruelly and exploited, however alternative fabrics used for faux fur never biodegrade

The scourge of plastic pollution prompted the Daily Mail’s Turn the Tide on Plastic campaign, which has been instrumental in dramatically cutting the use of plastic shopping bags.

This year, we have joined forces with Keep Britain Tidy to launch The Great British Spring Clean, urging voluntary litter picks. Discarded, non-biodegradable clothing is sure to be among the detritus recovered.

Proponents of vegan alternatives insist that while some of these materials may have shortcomings, they are ‘less bad’ than animal-derived items.

‘There are consequences to all actions that can cause harm to the environment or to animals,’ says Dominika Piasecka, spokesperson for The Vegan Society.

‘However, we are trying to minimise the harm to both and choosing to buy vegan things often results in the least harm caused. We acknowledge that there will be some environmental consequences of buying things like plastic but we encourage people in their purchases to go for the least harmful option.’

So are fur and leather really worse for the environment?

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition — a global collective of environmentally minded fashion brands — uses a measure called the Higg Materials Sustainability Index. It scores textiles based on the amounts of energy, water and chemicals that go into their production, and the pollution and greenhouse gases that result. A higher score, means the material is worse for the environment.

According to the index, cow leather, for example, is worse than synthetic polyurethane leather, since it scores 161 versus 59. This is because leather comes from an animal which requires large amounts of energy to produce the feed it eats, while emitting climate-warming methane gases and polluting effluents. By contrast, petroleum-based products such as polyester, acrylic, nylon and polyurethane fare much better.

However, critics say the index doesn’t consider how consumers use clothes, or what happens to them when they are discarded.

A woollen coat, for example, is likely to be worn for longer than a synthetic one and, during its lifetime, will not leach plastic microfibres into the ocean.

The hope is that future materials will solve these problems. Already, innovations are seeing ‘leathers’ made from pineapple leaves and mushrooms, and artificial silk grown in the laboratory.


The Demonizing of White Men

Rush Limbaugh’s December 2018 “Limbaugh Letter” has an article titled “Demonizing White Men.” It highlights—with actual quotations from people in the media, academia, and the political and entertainment arenas—the attack on white men as a class.

You can decide whether these statements are decent, moral, or even sensible. Should we support their visions?

Don Lemon, a CNN anchorman, said, “We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them.”

Steven Clifford, former King Broadcasting CEO, said, “I will be leading a great movement to prohibit straight white males, who I believe supported Donald Trump by about 85 percent, from exercising the franchise [to vote], and I think that will save our democracy.”

Teen Vogue, a magazine targeting teenage girls, wrote, “Not only is white male terrorism as dangerous as Islamic extremism, but our collective safety rests in rooting out the source of their radicalization.”

Economist Paul Krugman, a New York Times columnist, wrote a column titled “The Angry White Male Caucus,” in which he explained, “Trumpism is all about the fear of losing traditional privilege.”

There have been similar despicable statements made by academics.

James Livingston, a Rutgers history professor: “OK, officially, I now hate white people. … I hereby resign from my race. F— these people.”

Stacey Patton, a Morgan State University professor: “There is nothing more dangerous in the United States than a white man who has expected to succeed and finds himself falling behind.”

Stony Brook University sociology professor Michael Kimmel explained, “White men’s anger comes from the potent fusion of two sentiments: entitlement and a sense of victimization.”

Then there’s the political arena.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “There’s no question that in Georgia and in Florida racism has reared its ugly head. And you have candidates who ran against [Andrew] Gillum and ran against Stacey Abrams who were racist. … And that is an outrage.”

Michael Avenatti, criticizing the GOP senators during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings: “These old white men still don’t understand that assault victims and women deserve respect and to be heard.”

“What troubles me is … they’re all white men,” commented former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm regarding GOP senators questioning Christine Blasey Ford at the Kavanaugh hearings.

William Falk, editor-in-chief of The Week, said, “There’s something odd about the overwhelming white maleness of Washington’s current leadership.”

Not to be outdone, entertainers have hopped on the demonizing-white-men bandwagon.

Joy Behar, talking on ABC’s “The View” about senators supporting Kavanaugh, said: “These white men—old, by the way—are not protecting women. They’re protecting a man who is probably guilty.”

Actress Gabourey Sidibe, also on “The View,” said: “Older white men are a problem, y’all, for everyone. We’re all at risk.”

Moira Donegan wrote an article for The Guardian titled “Half of White Women Continue to Vote Republican. What’s Wrong With Them?”

Renee Graham wrote a column in The Boston Globe that counseled, “Memo to black men: Stop voting Republican.”

Comedian Chelsea Handler tweeted, “Just a friendly reminder for the weekend: No white after Labor Day, and no old, white racist men after the midterms. Get out and vote.”

That is just a partial list of statements that would be viewed and condemned as racist simply by replacing “white men” with “black men,” “Mexican men,” or “Asian men.” You can bet the rent money that university presidents and media executives would sanction any of their employees for making similar broad, sweeping statements about nonwhite men.

Suppose a white anchorman said, “Black people are the greatest murder threat in this country.” I guarantee you that he’d be shown the door.

There are only two ways to explain the silence by people who should know better. Either they agree with the sentiments expressed or they are out-and-out cowards.

Decent American people ought to soundly reject and condemn this brazen attack on white men. I think that the attack is on masculinity itself and that white men are a convenient scapegoat —for now.


BBC should boycott Eurovision in Israel, say Nazi entertainers

Celebrities including designer Vivienne Westwood, Pink Floyd's Roger Waters and 2018 Mercury Prize-winning band Wolf Alice have called on the BBC not to support the Eurovision Song Contest taking place in Israel this year.

"Eurovision may be light entertainment, but it is not exempt from human rights considerations – and we cannot ignore Israel’s systematic violation of Palestinian human rights," they write, in an open letter also signed by singer and Womad Festival founder Peter Gabriel, author AL Kennedy, actresses Miriam Margolyes and Maxine Peake, and film directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach.

The contest is traditionally held in the latest winner's home country. Last year's winner, Israeli singer Netta, ended her acceptance speech by saying "next time in Jerusalem!" In September, however, it was announced that Tel Aviv had been chosen to host the contest.

The letter, published today in the Guardian, states: "The European Broadcasting Union [EBU] chose Tel Aviv as the venue over occupied Jerusalem – but this does nothing to protect Palestinians from land theft, evictions, shootings, beatings and more by Israel’s security forces."

The EBU's Jon Ola Sand, who runs the contest, has defended the choice of city. "We cannot permit the contest to be politicized," he told Israeli newspaper Haaretz in November. "We were very clear about that. It seems that now everyone understands that Tel Aviv was a good choice.

"Jerusalem hosted the event twice before [in Jerusalem in 1979 and 1999] and in Tel Aviv, which has proven itself in hosting diverse cultural events, it will be much easier to deal with the issue of Shabbat."

The letter pushes the BBC to act ahead of its "You Decide" contest to choose the UK's Eurovision entry, which takes place on February 8: "The BBC should consider that 'You Decide' is not a principle extended to the Palestinians, who cannot decide to remove Israel’s military occupation and live free of apartheid [...] The BBC is bound by its charter to 'champion freedom of expression'. It should act on its principles and press for Eurovision to be relocated to a country where crimes against that freedom are not being committed."

RTÉ, Ireland's equivalent of the BBC, has already said it will allow its employees to refuse to travel to Israel to cover Eurovision. According to a statement released by the broadcaster in September, there “will not be any sanction against anyone from within RTÉ who doesn’t wish travel on conscientious grounds”.


Australia: McDonald's employee who broke her leg after climbing on to the roof for a smoko wins compensation payout under a bizarre law EVERY worker should know

This is absurd.  She may have been in the timeframe that counts as employed but it was her own responsibility to climb onto the roof.  How can the company be blamed for that?

A McDonald's employee who broke her leg while climbing on to the store roof for a pre-shift smoko will receive worker's compensation.

The Industrial Court of Queensland ruled Mandep Sarkaria was entitled to a payout because her employer's policy required her to arrive for work 10 minutes before her shift started at McDonald's Richlands on Brisbane's outskirts.

It is a stunning decision after two previous attempts for compensation failed and will have ramifications for workers in all industries who are required to be at work early.

The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission dismissed her initial appeal after WorkCover rejected her first compensation claim.

Her claim was dismissed because Ms Sarkaria had not established she had been 'temporarily absent from her place of employment' or that she was on an ordinary recess at the time of her injury, according to court documents.

Ms Sarkaria hasn't worked since November 2016 when she climbed a three metre ladder to access the roof to smoke a cigarette before she fell and broke her right leg when climbing down, according to court documents.

Ms Sarkaria's latest claim for compensation was accepted by the Industrial Court of Queensland despite the rooftop not being a designated smoking area for staff and a sign on the ladder at the time warning against staff going on to the rooftop.

Justice Glenn Martin ruled that Ms Sarkaria was injured during the time she was required to be at work.

'Although none of the employees at the restaurant would serve a customer, or cook food, or lift a mop from the time they arrived until their shift commenced they had, in my view, commenced work,' Justice Martin ruled.

'Their presence at the place of employment at a fixed time before their shift commenced meant that the people they were replacing could leave in a timely way at the end of their shift and there would be no disruption to the efficient conduct of the enterprise.'

He added that in Ms Sarkaria's case, the period of time during which an employee was required to attend work before a shift commenced should properly be regarded as an 'ordinary recess'.

The compensation amount is yet to be determined.

Candice Heisler from Quinn & Scattini told The Courier-Mail the ruling demonstrated to workers that  they were entitled to make a claim for for an injury sustained before or after work if required to be there at a specific time.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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