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PFAS: an invisible enemy

Environment, pollution and fashion

There’s a scary, invisible enemy: PFAS chemicals. Found in everything from your favourite outdoor jacket to the drinking water you consume, these chemicals pose a serious threat to both the environment and human health.

To better understand this threat, we attended a Greenpeace meeting at Arci Bellezza with Fashion Revolution, Mamme NO PFAS, CNR, IRSA, and Consorzio Italiano Detox.

We were familiar with the topic thanks to “Dark Waters” – a remarkable movie with Mark Ruffalo. Indeed, contamination is known worldwide: read more on Le Monde.

What are PFAS chemicals?

What are PFAS chemicals?
PFAS (poly and perfluoroalkyl compounds) are a large group of synthetic molecules (over 10 thousand) produced only by human activities. Also called forever chemicals, meaning once released into the environment, we’ll never get rid of them!

What are the health risks?
They are dangerous for health and associated with numerous pathologies, even serious ones, including some forms of cancer. Several European states asked to ban them.

Where are PFAS used for?
Industries have used PFAS since the 1950s to produce numerous commercial products: fabric waterproofers, carpets, leathers, insecticides, firefighting foams, paints, food container lining, non-stick pans, floor wax, detergents and beauty products.

Fashion industry and PFAS
From outdoor garments to water-repellent materials, raincoats, jeans, and undies. The fashion industry uses these chemicals throughout the manufacturing cycle.

The contamination in Lombardy:

Greenpeace detected PFAS in the waters of many Lombardy municipalities, including Milan. Carried out on a sample of data – by an independent accredited laboratory – the analyses highlighted the presence of PFAS in 11 drinking water samples out of the 31 collected. In four cases, the PFAS concentration is higher than the limit of the European Directive 2020/2184. In seven cases, the results show variable total PFAS concentrations.

Among the speakers Greenpeace has invited, Michela’s words, a member of “Mamme NO PFAS” – was really powerful! A mother from the Veneto region, the most impacted area, found out her daughter’s blood contained a high quantity of these chemicals. So, she joined other mothers to make their voices heard by politicians, inspiring others to do so.

How can we protect ourselves?

Being informed on contaminated areas, filter the tap water. However, some articles say to limit the use of products containing chemicals. Which sounds like “take your poison, but take it responsibly!”
But, given that PFAS are an invisible enemy, can we really protect ourselves from them?

We believe addressing single fields, such as fashion, agriculture or others, is relatively effective because there is a major cause we need to address. And this major cause is our economic system, capitalism, which sucks life out of the planet as well as out of humans.

Furthermore, how can we humans consider ourselves intelligent when we pour pollutants into the water, poisoning our own environment?

Donate to Greenpeace to support their investigations!

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Davos Forum: permacrisis and private jets

World leaders, the luxury bubble that rules the world

These days, the planetary elite is gathering in Davos. And try to guess how they reach the World Economic Forum? On a private jet, of course!

Davos Forum: what is it?

Davos is a town located in the Switzerland Alps where, in January, the World Economic Forum takes place. Started in 1971, WEF is a Switzerland non-profit that holds a five-day conference annually. The delegates include political leaders and representatives from international companies, pharmaceuticals, tech, banks and academics.

Every year the leaders tackle a different topic. This year’s theme is: “Cooperation in a fragmented world.”
Since Europe is facing a persistent state of hardship, going from crisis to crisis, we entered the era of “permacrisis.” And there seems to be no end to this challenging time. Other than economics, leaders will touch on environmental and social issues too.

Greenpeace & Davos

Greenpeace published an analysis conducted by the Dutch CE Delft checking the CO2 emissions from the private flights to the Davos Forum:

“The analysis shows a substantial increase in private jet flights to and from Davos airports and an even more sizable increase in CO2 emissions during the week of the World Economic Forum 2022, compared to an average week. The number of private jet flights doubles and private jet emissions quadruple during the week of the World Economic Forum compared to an average week.”

About every second flight is attributed to the meeting. But, the distance travelled is striking:
53% of all private jet flights were short-haul flights under 750 km. 38% were ultra short flights (below 500 km) that could have easily been train or car trips. More than 6% of all private jet flights flew less than 100 km. The shortest flight recorded was 21 km.

Read the full report here.

Clearly, these leaders live in a luxury bubble. In order to address economics, the climate emergency and social injustice, they fly on private jets and go to five-star hotels. Nevertheless, they suggest a radical change in technology and sustainability. In short, they indicate solutions while they exacerbate the problems. Absurd. Isn’t it?

Of course, the idea that leaders travel on private jets to address pollution, causing more CO2, could make us laugh. Unfortunately, the climate emergency is here to stay, and there’s nothing to laugh about.

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Life in plastic?

Why recycling plastic is a dead-end street

In the search for a sustainable lifestyle, great discussions revolve around recycling plastic to limit waste. Even though we pay attention to separate our waste at home, unfortunately, that is not a solution. So a new report on plastic pollution says.

The plastic report by Greenpeace

A new Greenpeace USA report – the source of this post – states that “plastic recycling is a dead-end street. Year after year, plastic recycling declines even as plastic waste increases.”

The good news is that paper, cardboard and metals are effectively recycled. But the bad news is that most plastic is not recyclable.

According to this report, U.S. households generated 51 million tons of plastic waste in 2021, but only 2.4 million tons were recycled.

Furthermore, once the U.S. exported plastic to China, they counted it as recycled, even though much of it was burned or dumped.

Plastic recycling: why doesn’t it work?

1- plastic waste is extremely difficult to collect
2- impossible to sort for recycling
3- it is environmentally harmful to reprocess
4- it’s often made of and contaminated by toxic materials (therefore unusable for food)
5- too expensive to recycle

In the end, the study points out that a circular economy based on recycling plastic is pure fiction.

“Corporations like Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, and Unilever have worked with industry front groups to promote plastic recycling as the solution to plastic waste for decades. But the data is clear: practically speaking, most plastic is just not recyclable. The real solution is to switch to systems of reuse and refill.”

Greenpeace

Of course, refilling and reusing make sense. We refill and reuse plastic containers as much as possible. But plastic is everywhere! And there’s too much of it! Every single item we buy comes with a plastic container and plastic wrap: food, beauty products, cleaning products, and tech stuff… Everything! In fact, the world is submerged by plastic. And researchers found plastic in human blood, too!
Therefore, recycling is not sufficient to solve the plastic waste issue. It’s clear!

The solution? Governments should put an end to plastic production.

Life in plastic? Read More »