Environmental Impact - Plastic

Nov 27, 2008

    1. I already searched the forum and found an older debate topic concerning the carbon footprint of the hobby in terms of the shipping (shipping from Asia to America or Europe), but not one concerning the dolls themselves.

      From my somewhat limited understanding of plastic in general, it isn't very good for the environment. Not only are toxic by-products produced when they're made, they're also often produced when the plastics are recycled. Now, the chances of a doll being recycled is pretty slim (over our dead bodies), but do you think the resin could be harmful to the environment?

      Obviously, dolls are intended to last a long time, as we want to enjoy them for as long as possible, but there is always the possibility that a doll could find its way to a landfill (goodness forbid). Aside from the obvious emotional reasons for objecting, do you have any opinion on why this could be very bad?

      What are your opinions? I'm not a hyper environmentalist myself (I intend to be when I earn enough money to do so, but right now I simply can't afford it), but I think a lot about environmental issues and especially the prevalence of plastic in the modern world. Please share your opinions.
       
    2. Good question! I have been thinking about that myself and it would be very interesting to know the answer. Any plastics experts around here?? O.o
       
    3. Unless you have a LOT of dolls, the amount of plastic used in their makeup is probably going to be pretty inconsequential compared to the plastics you go through ordinarily- food packaging, other packaging, even trash bags themselves, old electronics, polyester clothing, shoes, etc. Resin is probably not biodegradable (though I don't really know enough to say if it is or isn't) so it's not really great for the planet, but it's probably more effective to try to cut down on other plastic usage and recycle what you can, since all that other plastic waste adds up to a LOT for most people!

      I guess if you really feel bad about the environmental impact of the dolls, you could stop buying them, but I think for most people the love of the hobby outweighs other concerns like the environmental impact. Life would be pretty boring if we gave up every single thing we liked just because it's not perfect for the world...
       
    4. Well, they aren't environmentally friendly, but they would also account for such a tiny tiny portion of the plastics that end up in landfills (especially considering that they are not disposable products), that this wouldn't be one of my major concerns. I do care about environmental issues, but there are going to be things in all our lives that aren't "green". I would rather that be a doll that's meant to be kept and not thrown away than an item that's meant to be disposed of after a short period of time.
       
    5. I don't know about the resin being harmful... but what about all the aerosol stuff we use in this hobby? Is MSC/Testors enviromentally friendly? I know it's not good for your health when sprayed in an enclosed area.

      I don't think any of these dolls are going to end up in landfills anywhere, since there are so many people in the hobby who would jump at the chance to try and rescue 'lost cause' dolls, which seem to be pretty rare on their own.

      If you want to 'go green' with this hobby, I guess some human-sized 'go green' tips could help... Like sewing your doll's clothes out of natural 'green' fabrics. Maybe you could only buy dolls from the Marketplace or more local people to limit the shipping problem. Recycle your dolly boxes like you would other cardboard, or use them to make things for your dolls like beds or something. When taking photos of your dolls, use energy saving bulbs in the lamps you light them with. Use rechargeable batteries in your camera, etc...
       
    6. I don't think it should be that much of a concern. As skwerlie said, compared to everyday plastics, dolls are nothing to worry about; there are a much lower quantity of them and much much much fewer will end up in landfills. The intention of these dolls is for them to last forever, so it isn't like they are just using up material to go to waste. Also, resin dolls are not mass produced, so they affect the environment a lot less than say Barbie or Bratz dolls would, or any other plastic toy. A handmade piece of art is going to have a negligible effect on the environment (well... I am sure someone could find a away.. but that is besides the point). Though any plastic is not good for the environment (or your health really) there are much greater things to be concerned about than dolls.

      I have to add this because I take any opportunity to blab about this stuff I can: Plastic is a xenoestrogen, which is basically a man made product that mimics the effects of estrogen. I don't know a whole lot about this stuff, and research is still being done on its effects on humans, but I do know that women with estrogen problems are advised to stay away from xenoestrogens as much as possible (like not consuming anything packaged in plastic, which I have to say is very difficult). Again, I am sure dolls wouldn't be that much of a problem, but I am betting it would be for women that work with the resin (which does worry me).
       
    7. You know, my husband and I go to talking about this topic in a way just a few months ago while we were out running errands. Specifically about what companies do with all the 'bad casts' they wind up with that they won't sell. If they just throw them out, just how MUCH resin is being sent to landfills in those 'defective' pieces that aren't acceptable sell quality? Do they at least try to recycle them or not? When you really think about it that way, and if the companies do just throw them out, then that's bound to be a LOT of resin going in the trash.

      So far as the spray sealants we use...well, those are likely just as bad as hair spray, and other aerosols are, but it's also likely that most dolly enthusiasts who do their own face ups, or just do touch-ups and re-seals use more in everyday aerosol products than they do in sealants, just by using things like hairspray, spray non-stick products for cooking, spray paint, and the many other aerosol products that meant for 'everyday' use, over the course of any given year than they do with sealants. And you definitely do more damage over a year of driving (for those who do, and don't carpool) than in doing a new face-up, or touching up old ones and re-sealing.
       
    8. I doubt the hobby impacts the environment very much, but I would like to see the packaging on doll items made more environmentally friendly. Most people save the actual doll boxes but the little plastic sleeves for clothes and such probably get thrown out more often. I have no idea about the rest of Asia but in Japan there is no concern whatsoever about packaging waste.
       
    9. I wonder if anyone has ever sat down and calculated all these things together to figure out exactly how big a carbon footprint this hobby leaves? I hear a lot of "oh, it isn't that bad", and I don't mean to say you're all wrong, but I wonder if there are any solid numbers available concerning this. I don't know anything about how such things are calculated, but I would be interested in hearing about it if someone else did.

      The biggest problem with society (specifically American society, but many other countries are just as bad, if not worse) is that a lot of people seem to have the attitude of "oh, it isn't that bad" about the environment. It seems like most people have thought about things like disposable items, but not as many people think about the energy used by their appliances (I read an article that said if I left my XBox on all the time I would pay more than $500 more electricity a year). So I guess my other question is, do you do anything to offset the possible bad effects of this hobby? I don't use aerosols at all myself (perhaps twice a year when I get my hair done for some fancy dress event), and I try to minimize my consumption of plastics, as well as recycling everything that I'm allowed to. But that isn't really going to great lengths, IMO.
       
    10. Doll companies are not going to just throw out their junk casts. Individual casters might, but for a company, they save a lot of money on material by grinding down bad resin parts to mix back in with future casts.
       
    11. I might be wrong, but I remember seeing several people mention that the types of resin that most companies use cannot be re-melted or re-used.
       
    12. I don't really have much to contribute, because I agree with HiddenTohru that all of our "oh, it's not that bad compared to _______," can add up, but I also agree that if one really wants to lower their footprint, there are far more effective things you could change.

      Just to throw this out there - maybe we can start a sticky on green tips? I just found out the other day that if you have excess packing peanuts lying around that you'd otherwise throw out, you can bring them back to packing places and many will reuse them. I tend to hoard mine, but for those without enough space to do so, it's far better than throwing them out!
       
    13. The whole point about "going green" is not just having a so-called positive effect on the earth. It goes hand in hand with the concept of sustainability, the idea that we as humans can stop stripping the earth of everything remotely good about it and instead sustain ourselves using the technology available. Putting your filtered water in a reusable bottle instead of buying Nestle Pure Life (which, surprise, is the same water *I* get from my tap here in Florida, just run through some worthless filters to give you spring taste) or Dasani (same deal as Pure Life, only they draw from the municipal water supply of Atlanta...TASTY HUH?!) not only saves on plastics in the landfill but is sustainable--no more disposable water bottles need to be made for you, which means less plastic has to be made, which means less oil has to be drawn out of the ground. It's a cycle.

      Dolls are not part of the sustainability cycle, period, except in and of themselves when we sell our dolls "used" onward to a new owner. They are luxury items and have no real place in the sustainability circle. Therefore, their "greenness" is moot.

      This is a longwinded way of saying I'd worry about how many plastic bottles I use loooooong before I worried about how green my dolls are. ;)
       
    14. In general, Resin cannot be re-melted and reused, it is not the same as plastic, it cures when two different liquids are mixed.

      HOWEVER, cured resin can be ground into a powder and mixed back into the new resin to "fill" it while it is a liquid without affecting the stability of the resin.
       
    15. That is a very, very wise point of view and I do agree. ^_^
       
    16. Most of my dolls are pre-loved, which means I've gone and saved a company the bother of having to produce five whole BJDs on my behalf. So on that score, my dolls are fairly green. All of mine have had face-ups when they arrived, so I haven't been spraying MSC into the air, and I buy organic and sustainable cotton wherever available, so I'm not worried about that either.

      My boyfriend and I do volunteer work with Liverpool World Center for Fair Trade and we're involved in all sorts of projects focused on green issues and fair trade for all, so if my dollies weren't involved I think my boyfriend would tell me off :) Next time I go to help at an event, I'm going to bring one of my dolls with me (wearing a Fair Trade t-shirt of course!)
       
    17. The very fact these dolls are hardwearing are what appeals, they are passed down to others, or re sold, re modded, parts exchanged to others, materials recycled to make accessories, swops of their accessories...someone out there will allways want your doll and your doll parts whenever the day comes when you dont :) even when theyre completely falling apart someone will use them to mod or practise on etc. You just have to see evidence of that in the DOA marketplace.
      You can apply this question to any of your hobbies and obsess over it, interesting debate though.
       
    18. Resin is really only harmful before it is mixed and cured... check the MSDS of any polyurethane product and you'll see how bad it is. However once the two parts are mixed.. there may be some fumes etc created in the chemical bonding process, but once the doll is cured, the resin becomes inert; unless of course you start sanding it and create dust (and in some cases releasing chemical thinners that may have been added to the resin to give it a lower viscosity ~ you'll notice this if a doll smells when you sand it), but that will primarily be harmful to those in close contact, rather than the environment at large, and fine dust from any material is going to be harmful to your lungs, sinuses and airways.
       
    19. Seeing as BJDs are made from the same thing as skateboard wheels, and polyurethane wheels have been around since the early seventies, and land KNOWS how many old skateboard wheels have ended up in the trashbin, I'm sure that the resin doesn't have an extroadinarily extra-bad effect on the environment.
       
    20. I find the whole "carbon footprint" thing a bit misleading and almost silly. By that, I mean what and to whom are you going to count towards this cost. Here's my list of things that should count. Its pretty long.

      Okay gas/petroluem products for UPS, PO, EMS, Planes, and possibly ships that dolls and etc are shipped on and the minor percentage of the "carbon cost" for producing those machines. If you didn't ship things there would be no need for them. Okay its a tiny portion, but still. Then there is the bubble wrapping, plastic bags, the tape, yes tape, and stamps. How about the plastic coated paper that is in with your dolls, you kown the company pledge of quality, post cards, etc. The percentage of car use and its gas use to get me to the post office and to buy shipping items (if I ship stuff).
      The electricity used by laptops and computers while you were on line and the manufacter of the electronic equipment... lots of hazardous stuff used in making the computers. Then there are the CD, DVD, USB drives and other methods of data storage. Of course you have to include their packaging, its shipping packaging and cost of transportation to you/stores.
      The productions of cameras and possibly film. Batteries here too.
      How about all the cables to connect camera to laptop, to printer. There is lead there.
      Production of cloth for the clothes; pesticides, fertilizer and dye. How was the cloth manufactured? Green, water, coal, electricity based power? How were the dyes made and disposed of after use.
      What where the molds made from that the dolls were made from? what did the artists used to create the original figure. Clay, petrol based clay, chemical based (sculpty), etc?
      THen there are the eyes and wigs and shoes.
      How about the machines like sewing machines that stuff is sewn by. How was the thread produced and by what source material? How were the machines made, shipped and sold.
      Then there are the Paints and chemicals used in face-ups. Many pigments are mineral based - how were they mined? some are toxic. What about the chemical ones? How where they produced? Then there are the containers, the labels, the shipping, the stores purchased from.


      Can you see where I'm going here? One "simple" choice has alot of related issues to it. Most people just look at the "closest" ones and forget to look at how every "little" choice has huge consequences to it. Every little choice has a lot of environmental bagage to it.
      So after depressing you: there are some ways of "greening" the hobby. I find green to be a mis-used term and over used term with little meaning. If you want to realy be green you wouldn't be buying these things and your computer would be solar powered. Sorry about my little rant there.

      Okay simplest would be to reduce the amount of stuff you buy. An example-Do not buy 5 pairs of eyes when just one does the job. Do not ship small stuff (lots of waste for relatively nothing). Use nothing but post consumer recycled packaging (high levels, not just 10-30%). I prefer paper, but even that can get tricky.
      Reduce the amount of plastic. Reuse and recycle styrofoam peanuts as much as possible.
      Never throw those things out. Repaire clothes and shoes of give them to someone who can - less waste. When sewing, look into the manufactoring of the particular materials - sometimes cotton creates more of an environmental impact than polymers. (again it is grown- chemicals, fertilizer, water usage, equipment used to farm, distribution methods, etc matter)
      So after making you scream "I can't take it. I don't want to spend my life researching this stuff." all I can say that I'm trying to make my point with a sledgehammer and not a feather.

      In a nutshell: Reduce (in all manners possible), reuse (try to be creative here) and then recycle (as much as possible).