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April & May '20: Overdressed > EcoFeminism Cases: Buyer BE-Aware

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message 1: by Pam (last edited Apr 01, 2020 07:13AM) (new)

Pam | 1070 comments Mod
Hello OSS!

Overdressed, our Member Selected Book, takes a look at Fast Fashion and the many effects it has on the environment, labor practices, and industry world wide.

But Fast Fashion isn't the only sector or industry that exploits workers or depletes the environment at an unsustainable pace. Over the course of our 8 weeks reviewing this topic, I'll be adding one "Buyer Be-Aware" case study for everyone to read, review, and reflect upon.

Eco-Feminism encourages us to review how these industries are effecting our world and our people within it and asks for the community to come up with better solutions. These industries are here to stay (for better or worse), but as eco-feminists we can work to push for better standards, or implement better solutions that will make these industries more bearable for all involved.


message 2: by Pam (last edited Apr 01, 2020 07:16AM) (new)

Pam | 1070 comments Mod
Week 1: Beauty Industry: Argan Oil
"Whether it is being drizzled on salads or turned into face creams, Morocco's argan oil is the latest culinary and cosmetic must-have. But with sales soaring around the world, concerns remain about the pay and conditions of the mainly female workforce that produces the oil."

Industry: Production, which is almost all from Morocco, is expected to reach 19,623 US tons or $1.79bn (£1.4bn) by 2022 up from 4,836 US tons in 2014.

Workforce: An ethnic minority, the Berbers.

Pay: In the article; in this specific company: the women at the company are allowed to work as much as they like but make well below the minimum wage of Morocco

Issues effecting the Berber women
- Making Argan oil allows them to continue traditional practices and to hold on to this way of life.
- They make more money from oil production and have heath care now than if they became cleaning women in the city
- Before if they harvested oil for themselves; their husbands would sell the oil at the market and oftentimes keep the money for themselves.
- Automation is also competing against the Berber women; machines don't need health care and can produce the oils faster and cheaper (if not at the same efficiency)

What do you think?
What are your thoughts on this topic?
What solutions are available?

message 3: by Florian (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 215 comments Hello!

The first thing that hit my mind is the gap between wages. I mean, in France such work would result in higher paycheck. So it highlights the difference between countries, similar jobs have tremendous difference of salary which is clearly not normal.
This leads me to many questions such as: "Are we doing that to make argan oil based product more affordable in the targeted countries?" or "Is that a way to maintain the discriminated hierarchy of power between countries?"

On the other hand it allows to keep tradition and help to access better conditions just like mentioned in the article. But... I still think it might not be enough. I think they should be paid more, that they should manage that business themselves maybe with some advisors but they should be the one in charge.

I know, one could say "sure but at least they have an opportunity that is given to them." fair... but more could be given.

As for the solution: rethink the entire world? Focus on human well-being rather than capitalism?

Here was my opinion :)

message 4: by Charles (new)

Charles | 24 comments In my opinion,

as an entrepreneur, I faced a similar case with the production of cocoa in the Reunion Island, and the solution to give the workers a better salary was to create a fair-trade circuit.

The entire system as to be set-up with co-operatives producing with fair-trade rules. They pay their employees a higher wage, and sell the product a little bit higher, but it's fair trade, so we have to count on people who buy's empathy and will to see fair trade being a norm.

That's the problem with fair trade circuits, they have to sell a product a little bit more expansive but which is certified eco-friendly, or eco-feminist, etc.

For to answer Florian : rethink the entire world? Focus on human well-being rather than capitalism?

I would say, every one who search for the light should remain positive, of course the world and the laws of economic are disappointing, but we should count on people like Emma, who are trying to makes things change. A person like her highlighting such a problem at the UN can change up to laws in the country and force the Moroccan gouvernement to make it more equal.

In the book Sex and World peace there are tons of examples like that in chapter 6 that tend to prove it's possible to change things when the light is pointed at those women, when the opinion is used to make the torturers feeling so guilty they have to rethink the entire problem. Of course a solution could also be for
for countries that consume oil to create an embargo until the rules of fair trade are respected. But I confess, that the same book, gives us a good explanation of why it's difficult in such a country and for what reason, because of the difference of culture with our western countries. But that's why we have to believe things can change and act in that direction at our respective level...

message 5: by Annie (last edited Apr 08, 2020 09:53AM) (new)

Annie | 44 comments Props to Emma for being amazing and all, but honestly Charles can you go one post without invoking her name like some idol worship?

Like, honestly, I cannot even read your posts anymore because it's all Emma Emma Emma. I don't even know of you have good points or not because as soon as you mention her name my eyes roll so hard.

message 6: by Charles (new)

Charles | 24 comments Annie wrote: "Props to Emma for being amazing and all, but honestly Charles can you go one post without invoking her name like some idol worship?

Like, honestly, I cannot even read your posts anymore because it..."

At least you read my posts... and as it's Emma's Book Club, I feel its normal to rely on her, on her actions more than Valérie Pecresse for example or Marlene Schiappa. Which are also personalities acting for women.

I'm just saying we can stay positive because people like her are doing things that can change the world. On my own, I can't, may be can you? So its not a worship like an idol, she is more like a hope, but many other women are, I think about Michelle Obama, or Cecilia Munoz, a senior advisor of B. Obama during his presidency who released a book that can empower women, especially women of color in USA and is also a leader that can make a change in our world.

I think positive, may be I should think it's useless to count on her while she makes brillant interview, but may be not with the good journalist... anyway there are tons of fan on the site, that may expect her to act in the same direction she is already acting.

I have no idol, sorry about that, only hope

message 7: by Florian (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 215 comments It was founded by Emma but it's everyone book club 😉

Annie and Charles, I'm curious about your opinion regarding the argan oil article. Mind to share it please? I'd be happy to read your thought about such important topic! 😊

message 8: by Pam (last edited Apr 11, 2020 07:45AM) (new)

Pam | 1070 comments Mod
Week 2: Agriculture and specific diets: Quinoa

The issue; The price of quinoa tripled from 2006 to 2013 as America and Europe discovered this new superfood. Quinoa was previously considered as a neglected crop – it was considered as a “peasants’ food with no commercial value but was a staple food to indigenous people of the Andean region over centuries because of its fantastic adaptive qualities and high nutritional values

The issue: But with the boon (a direct response to the gluten in rice and wheat) media reports started coming that the people who grew it in the high Andes mountains of Bolivia and Peru could no longer afford to eat it.

message 9: by Florian (last edited Apr 09, 2020 12:37AM) (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 215 comments Also, to what I know UN considered Quinoa as a major contribution to end hunger in the world. I forgot where I saw that.

Edit: I like the two articles since they show 2 different point of views. The first one seems to neglect the drawback of quinoa boom while the 2nd does a good focus on the negative impact.

We clearly see how a boom can affect the local population who see one of their food supply becoming too expensive for them to buy... that is really sad.

One crucial point which is not approached in the article is the region where quinoa is produced and the region where it is consumed. I mean, they say it but they don't emphazise the carbon impact of transportation. Clearly, western europe and US seem to be good customers but it's thousands miles away.

I think we cannot talk about quinoa without talking about veganism and vegetarianism which highly influenced the production of such food. Here is another important aspect. Of course values that motivate one to become vegan or vegetarian are differents but the 2 most common are: 1) animal treatment (crualty), 2) environmental.
I know that to substitue animal proteins (especially in vegan alimentation) food such as Tofu (from Soy), Seitan (from cereals), Quinoa and even beans like red beans (red beans also has the advantage to have a significant amount of iron!) are needed. The problem is such food are often bought without looking at the tags and without knowing the conditions of the workers. What vicious is the indirect impact of consuming vegies from crops that contributed to air pollution (transportation) and therefore to climate change or to deforestation. In the end, biodiversity is still tremendously impacted and animals suffer.
Of course, I'm not saying veganism is bad or good (I'm tempted to say it is good since I have a vegan alimentation) but I think it is important to do real effort in knowing where the good are produced and (if possible) the conditions.

On the other hand we see opportunities for people to access a better life and to escape some form of extrem poverty. Tough topic that as so many points to consider :)

I hope to see other point of views to discuss Quinoa industry and the related (and inevitable) subjects!

Stay safe and take care of your (and other) self!

message 10: by Charles (new)

Charles | 24 comments It's a hard one.

That's a shame due to the laws of financial markets. It's difficult to find an answer to the question: How make that unfair trade change for people of lower condition...

Having quotas of exportation, will increase the price as there is still a high demand. Hoping for vegans and other healthy food fanatics to consume less will be difficult because
it's a real source of revenue and a real financial niche. The damage is done, now we know that quinoa is a super aliment...

NGO's or the state of Bolivia could buy it to give it back to the population who are affected by famine or sell it to a much more affordable price.

The best solution in my opinion, is for the "Comunidad Andina" or the "Mercosur" to raise the taxes and stop the free trade agreement to make protectionism like USA does with their technologies with the Chineses. the taxes will be higher and that may result in a fairer price for local populations...

message 11: by Annie (new)

Annie | 44 comments Reminds me of the potatoe famine.

The English used the Irish land( and people) to grow potatoes. To the point where the English didn't even let the poor Irish use a small portion of the land to feed themselves. When the blight hit the crops the English weren't hurt badly because they still had tons of arable land for themselves to grow items outside of potatoes.

But the poor people of Ireland died from starvation and famine. They didn't make enough money to support themselves to begin with let alone when the crops failed.

This of course was in the 1800's before Fair Trade was established, but we have the same pattern of a country far away effecting and using a poorer nation. (Though I am happy to read that they have 12 kinds of quinoa so that a homogeneous blight won't take it out)

Here is hoping that prices continue to go forward and that these nation's and the indigenous population can continue to become economically more steady with this crop.

message 12: by Florian (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 215 comments Also, some type of Quinoa can be planted in other region.
For example, 6 months ago I went into a loose food item shop and I was told that a type of quinoa has been introduced in France. I did not use to buy Quinoa because I did not know it could be locally produced, now it's not from far away I buy it even if it means a higher price.
Some people save their money on food for new i-phones, I prefer to buy better and fair trade things :)

message 13: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (barbarainhouston) Pam wrote: "Week 2: Fad diets (Gluten): Quinoa

I really found the two articles and the discussion that followed to be interesting so thank you for posting. I am a little sensitive to referring to going gluten free as a "fad diet" since I am genuinely gluten sensitive. (I do know that there are people who follow the diet because it is trendy and don't need to.) Interestingly, the quinoa controversy does not affect my personal food choices because I also react to quinoa and corn and some other "gluten free" ingredients.

message 14: by Pam (last edited Apr 11, 2020 07:47AM) (new)

Pam | 1070 comments Mod
That's an important distinction and thank you for holding me accountable Barbara.

I in no way want to diminish your experience by letting a few individuals spoil something that has worked out in your favor. This is similar to snuggies. The inventor made these for individuals with mobility issues who have wheelchairs. But by selling them, making them to the mass audience, snuggies became mocked as people being too lazy. Costs came down; more people in the community could go on to use them, but they were tainted by individuals not understanding that this product wasn't intended for them

Thank you. I will amend my statement above.

message 15: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1070 comments Mod
Week 3; Beauty industry and exfoliants


The Issue: The invention of microbeads was a minor medical breakthrough; they could be used to treat cancer, help with HIV research and even form the technological basis behind home pregnancy tests. Microbeads are designed to get into hard to reach places. In science they are primarily used to separate biological materials. Once magnetically charged, for example, they can be attracted to the surface of certain types of cell or bacteria.

They’re also an environmental disaster.

Microbeads are not captured by most wastewater treatment systems. ... Once in the water, microbeads can have a damaging effect on marine life, the environment and human health. This is due to their composition, ability to adsorb toxins and potential to transfer up the marine food chain.

- According to the UK parliament’s environmental audit committee, a single shower can result in 100,000 plastic particles being washed down the drain.
- A September 2015 study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology estimated that 808 trillion plastic microbeads are washed down US household drains every day.
- Of those, eight trillion make it through water treatment plants and out into lakes, oceans and rivers.
- Microbeads adds to the microplastic in the ocean. Microplastic or the broken pieces of unrecyclable plastic
- It is estimated that between 15 and 51 trillion microplastic particles have accumulated in the ocean, with Europe alone flushing between 80,000 and 219,000 tonnes of microplastics into the sea each year.
- Cosmetic companies' voluntary approach to phasing out plastic microbeads simply won't wash,” said Creagh. “We need a full legal ban, preferably at an international level as pollution does not respect borders.”

What was once a major selling point for refreshing, cleansing cosmetics has now become a byword for environmental disaster. A couple of years ago packaging triumphantly declared the presence of cleansing microbeads – they're now hidden in the list of ingredients under the guise of polyethylene and polypropylene.

message 16: by Florian (last edited Apr 14, 2020 06:49AM) (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 215 comments Jenna Jambeck and co-workers reported in 2015 reported that the amount of plastic that ended up in the Ocean in 2010 was between 4.8 and 12.7 Mt (Mt = Million metric tons).
Those were the estimations for 1 year, only one year!

If you may have access so those articles I recommend you to read them:


I think the first has restricted access but the others are open access. Jenna, Kara and Roland wrote the 2nd article so they used some of their data from the 1st one anyway. Of course it is scientific literature so, I mainly recommend you to read the abstract and the conclusion, then if it interest you go through the other parts.


That one is about plastics ingested by animals:

message 17: by Keerthikanth (new)

Keerthikanth Maradani Piplantri village in Rajasthan stands as a contradiction in a country like India where female foeticide has been a common practise. The village’s former sarpanch Shyam Sundar Paliwal was instrumental in starting an interesting eco-friendly initiative in the memory of his daughter Kiran, who died very young. To confront this unfortunate event Shyam Sundar Paliwal started a tradition in which 111 trees are planted on the birth of every girl child. In his support all the villagers not only plant saplings but also take care of them. It is also interesting to note that the villagers plant Aloevera around these trees to save them from termites. Further, the forest produce that they get from trees have become a source of income for many villagers, especially Aloe Vera.

The purpose of planting trees is to ensure that every girl child is financially secure and for this the villagers contribute 21,000 collectively and take 10,000 from the parents to put it in a fixed deposit which gets matured when the girl turns 20. Besides making the girl financially stable the villagers also make sure that the girl receives proper education and is not married off before they attain adulthood. Apart from conserving environment and empowering women the village has another feather on its cap, it is reported that in the last 7-8 years there has been no police case. The Piplantri village truly stands as an example of Ecofeminism that must be emulated.

message 18: by Megan (new)

Megan | 16 comments Pam wrote: "Week 3; Beauty industry and exfoliants


The Issue: The invention of microbeads was a minor medical breakthr..."

According to the article, some of the largest companies have phased them out. Looking at the products on my own sink right now, I see that some companies are saying on the packaging that the exfoliants their products contain are "natural" or "biodegradable", so clearly there is more awareness now. It seems like this happens frequently - something new is discovered and quickly becomes incorporated into products before anyone thinks it through, then has to be phased back out once people see the environmental impact (or extra cost, from the companies' perspective). For example, I was just explaining to a younger person the other day about how cassettes and CDs used to be sold in longboxes so stores could use the racks they previously used for records. Also, many personal care products used to be sold in boxes that contained the actual tube, jar, etc., whereas now they are generally sold without the extra box. And Styrofoam packing peanuts used to be everywhere, but now they have been replaced by the inflatable plastic inserts or paper. This is why it is important for people to be informed about the environmental impact of the products they use - companies don't make these changes until enough of their customers demand them to!

message 19: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1070 comments Mod
Keerthikanth wrote: "Piplantri village in Rajasthan stands as a contradiction in a country like India where female foeticide has been a common practise. The village’s former sarpanch Shyam Sundar Paliwal was instrument..."

That is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing Keerthikanth

message 20: by Florian (last edited Apr 14, 2020 11:49PM) (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 215 comments Just a thing, be careful with the "biodegradable" it's often wrong and used to greenwash.
Changing the chemistry by adding or removing even a small part of the molecule/material changes its entire properties.

Another point, biodegradable is also conflated with bio compostable. What's unclear and not said is biocompostable means "industrially biocompostable", in other words it must be performed under specific conditions and the product must be collected. Also, a biocompostable product contained in a mixture of product does not make the mixture biocompostable 😉

As a result, biodegradable aspect is often used as marketing but rarely means something.

Finally, replacing fossil-fuel based product by product made out bio-renewable resources is positive since it's less polluting 😉

Tricky topic, often poorly understood by people since it's often badly explained and badly promoted by commercials and companies.

Ps: some fossil-fuel based material are biodegradable like poly (caprolactone).

message 21: by Annie (new)

Annie | 44 comments So I try to use as many green products as possible.
My scrubs tend to be charcoal, willow bark, sugar or coffee grinds.

I haven't yet made the leap into making my own scrubs... But I'm about to run out soon so I may need to! Has anyone made their own sugar scrubs?

message 22: by Florian (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 215 comments I don't know what's a scrub, is that some kind of soap?

message 23: by Charles (new)

Charles | 24 comments A scrub is a semi abrasive lotion that you use to clean your skin and make it softer, especially one that is slightly rough and will remove old skin.

Never tried but I discovered good ones thanks to the book fairies

message 24: by Florian (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 215 comments Oh... I see. Thanks for the explanation.

message 25: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 260 comments i've used sugar mixed into a hand lotion as a scrub, and it worked really well. i've also used lava stone for more callused areas such as feet. is loofah out of bounds now? haven't heard, but i've also used that for years.

the best scrubber i've used, tho, has been an abrasive dish washing cloth. (I'm not talking steel wool, by any means!) it may not be for everyone, but i've used it (along with lotion) even on my eyelids. my skin feels smooth and soft after, and i have less wrinkling.

i tend to question 'new and improved' so-called beauty products, but i've been around a long time and i tend to go old school as much as possible. some may say it's more work, but i look at it as a simple way to use up calories and keep my muscles and joints working.

message 26: by Pam (last edited Apr 15, 2020 01:21PM) (new)

Pam | 1070 comments Mod
I use a brush with bristles for a dry rub, Sandra, so I agree. Supposedly its good for cleaning lymph nodes as well as helping your skin.

I also have "strawberry" skin, where my pores on my legs can become easily clogged which makes my skin look like I have strawberry seeds in it. The dry brush and a sugar scrub are very helpful to cleaning my skin where a regular loofah or cloth can't. And man do my legs feel so great after!

message 27: by Florian (new)

Florian (laughingflow) | 215 comments We should create a thread with homemade/eco-friendly product recipes: soap, detergent etc... It could be great. Not related with books but quite useful.

message 28: by Pam (last edited May 31, 2020 08:34AM) (new)

Pam | 1070 comments Mod
I dropped the ball on this one, my apologies everyone.

Here are the topics that I wanted to touch upon:

Pets in the time of COVID:
With Cornovirus we're seeing the influx of pets being sent off to animal shelters as families are economically unable to care for their pets. All in a time when shelters that normally have very tight budgets are suffering as donations are dwindling and the price of care is rising.



Many shelters, however, actually ran out of animals to adopt. Given that people were home for much longer, the thought of having a cat or a dog around to pass the time with made for a good fit.

"Up north at the Wisconsin Humane Society, they had so many new foster parents sign up – 400 – in just a few days that it briefly crashed the website, says Angela Speed, vice president for communications. Within five days, she says, their shelters were cleared out, with 159 animals adopted and 160 in foster care.

"People stepped up in a huge way," says Speed. "We all recognize that animals are a source of comfort, love and stress reduction in a chaotic, unprecedented time."



Many people are watching to make sure the adoptions hold. Shelter in Place is ending for many places, but the economy hasn't quite bounced back.

message 29: by Pam (last edited May 31, 2020 08:45AM) (new)

Pam | 1070 comments Mod
Manicures and the cost to the Manicurist

A growing body of medical research shows a link between the chemicals that make nail and beauty products useful — the ingredients that make them chip-resistant and pliable, quick to dry and brightly colored, for example — and serious health problems.

Whatever the threat the typical customer enjoying her weekly French tips might face, it is a different order of magnitude, advocates say, for manicurists who handle the chemicals and breathe their fumes for hours on end, day after day.

The prevalence of respiratory and skin ailments among nail salon workers is widely acknowledged. More uncertain, however, is their risk for direr medical issues. Some of the chemicals in nail products are known to cause cancer; others have been linked to abnormal fetal development, miscarriages and other harm to reproductive health.

To add to this: the majority of nail salon workers — 79 percent, according to the report — are immigrants, and many are undocumented. That means they often don’t get health insurance, paid sick days, or other labor protections. And in most cases, undocumented workers can’t get unemployment or access the other benefits in the federal stimulus package.

Nail salon workers typically make a very low wage. Between 2012 and 2016, the median wage for a full-time nail salon worker was just $9.06 an hour, far below the nationwide median of $20.18 an hour, according to the UCLA/California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative report.

And, workers and their advocates say, customers need to understand the risks people face in doing their nails. That includes wearing a mask themselves. Ivy Nguyen has seen news coverage of people refusing to wear masks, and she’s concerned about what would happen if she or one of her coworkers had to ask someone to put on a mask, especially with the prevalence of anti-Asian racism during the pandemic.

Seventy-six percent of nail salon workers are of Asian descent, according to a 2018 report by the UCLA Labor Center and the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative. And Asian-Americans have faced a wave of xenophobia and bigotry since the pandemic began, with more than 1,100 physical and verbal attacks documented between late March and mid-April alone, as Vox’s Li Zhou reports.


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