In The Parade - Surveying the Merchandise at Hand: What's This 'Other'?
Having slept on the flight from New York City to Atlanta, I was wide-awake after a four-hour layover at the Atlanta airport. I boarded my connecting flight to Orlando. Three iced espresso drinks on an empty stomach may have helped me stare absent-mindedly at the pages of the Sky Mall magazine.
The Canine Genealogy Kit looked interesting, even though I was sure my dog Simon didn’t care where his great-grandfather was born or whether he belonged to a household of Civil War buffs. The Moisturizing Glove and Booties looked interesting, too, and the magazine said they are recommended by dermatologists. I also discovered the fake palm leaf ceiling fan blade covers, made of ABS resin, which are supposed to create a more uniform air flow.
Behind me I heard a female passenger tell her seatmate that she had spent a week in New York and stayed at the same hotel where the “West Miniature” Dog Show was held. Yes, she did say this. Really. I imagined the seatmate nodding her head in agreement.
Back in the Sky Mall, the “potty train your cat faster than most people can potty train their kids” kit looked promising, and I considered adding this to my Christmas shopping list for those friends who have cats. The implication of no more kitty litterboxes was enticing, and the three-step “Litter Kwitter” with the four plastic toilet rings AND the video was too much.
Simon wouldn’t need the rings. He has perfected the parallel-bar-gymnast-inspired poop posture and can even poop uphill, back legs raised with his weight on his front legs. Who needs plastic rings? Who needs cats?
My focus turned to my recently purchased Old Navy Wool Pea Coat (large, made in China), which was lying on my lap. Drawing my attention was a strange thread that I had not noticed before. I picked at it, and it wouldn’t budge. I pulled at it, and it pulled through the fabric. It was kind of shiny, so I looked closer. The coat is black and the thread is shiny, and the coat is supposed to be wool. I looked at the tag, and it said the shell is made up of 42 percent polyester, 40 percent recycled wool, 11 percent rayon and 7 percent other fibers.
I’m familiar with both polyester and rayon so I know that they are byproducts of mixing chemicals. I Googled recycled wool (also called Shoddy) and found that it’s made by cutting or tearing apart existing wool fabric and re-spinning the resulting fibers. Because this process makes the wool fibers shorter, the remanufactured fabric is inferior to the original. Really.
The label doesn’t say where the wool came from, but in effect, it says that the wool had been spun once before, spun again, mixed with materials made with chemicals and sold at Old Navy. That line about 7 percent “other” fibers has me concerned.
I say I’m concerned because in years past, the “other” turned out to be melamine in products made with tainted Chinese milk, such as baby formula and snack food. Major brands of dog and cat food were found tainted by “other” — melamine again — and sold at major retailers such as Wal-Mart. Even our beloved Ronnie McDonald had “other” — cadmium this time — found on his Shrek glasses. So why should I not be worried that my coat contains “other” fibers?
If anyone out there knows someone who knows someone who can run tests on my pea coat to see what the “other” content might be, I will gladly cut my coat into strips and ship the strips via UPS or FedEx to be tested. It means that much to me.