Handbags To Die For

Handbags To Die For

Yesterday I paid a visit to my local T.J.Maxx. I was there to replace the nail polish set I'd bought my little girls months earlier. The stuff is brightly colored, smells like candy, and comes off (everything) with water. Can't beat it. But, of course, once through the doors, well... you know how it goes. Straight to the handbags. 

Perusing the aisles, a black tote-style bag with a large bow caught my eye from the far back of a lower hook. I wrestled it out for a closer inspection:

First thing I noticed... it didn't feel good. Vinyl. And not the kind that makes you check for the "real leather" tag. This was the icky sort that might, like cheap shoes, leave skid marks on your floor. And the smell. Pee-ew! You know when you accidentally drip gasoline on yourself while replacing the fuel nozzle at the pump? Not good.

Holding the handles, I checked the tags. And saw this:


Rather surprising. After all, it's not a pesticide, it's a purse! The manufacture of which might (they aren't sure?) cause birth defects or "other reproductive harm" (good heavens, what?) in the state of California. The fact that I was not standing in a factory, but in a retail store on the absolute opposite side of the country, made it no less distressing. I think the Brits would have described me as "gobsmacked." 

I said aloud, "Really? Are you kidding me?" I looked around for someone, anyone, to share this with. Another shopper was browsing at the end of the aisle. I called, "Hi," and waved her over, saying, "Would you mind taking a look at this? I just can't believe it. I have to show it to someone. What do you make of it?" She came over and read the tag. 

She had the same reaction. Utter disbelief. Disgust. Overhearing our exchange, more women wandered over out of curiosity, until about a half-dozen of us were standing there, telling one another we could not believe that such a thing exists. 

Were other bags equally harmful, but, being manufactured outside of California, their danger was "not known" or, more likely, "not legally required to be disclosed?" What other accessories "might" be manufactured using the chemicals in question? Should we fear our umbrellas, our hats, our shoes?

"Oh Lordy, please, not the shoes," one older woman said. And though we all laughed, we knew she might be on to something.

Inching away from the toxic tote, our little group stood for several minutes, asking who on earth would want it, and how it could be legal to begin with. Did the harmful materials linger? Was carrying the bag as dangerous as creating it? Fashion victim, indeed! But if the final product weren't harmful, why bother with a warning? 

Perhaps the label was some demented twist on a fair trade logo -- meant to shame and scold, rather than encourage and congratulate? Instead of third-world farmers getting their fair share of coffee profits, American factory workers "might" be getting birth defects. "Go ahead, buy it," the warning taunts, "Now that you're informed, it's all on you."

p.s. The poison purse caught my eye because it resembled this lovely, handmade, cotton canvas tote I'd seen on Etsy and admired a few weeks before:

You can buy it here.


Liza Dolensky

Isn’t that wild? Now it really makes me wonder what is lurking out there, and how much is NOT labeled.

Liza Dolensky

I’m with you…WTH! I can’t believe they even allow it to be on the market! So much for quality control! Where’s the FDA on something like this?

Liza Dolensky

If you lived in California, you’d realize that EVERYTHING has that label. Banks have that label. Carpeting. If you feed rats enough of anything the chances are pretty good that it will qualify for that label. It doesn’t mean the bag is going to poison you.

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