The environment and the creation of BJD's

Dec 2, 2019

    1. Hello,

      So a long time ago I got into BJD's (well 6 years ago really) and absolutely loved being able to buy a brand new clean canvas doll from the manufacture (when I could afford it of course).
      Since this early me I've gone through a lot and now as I try to sell the majority of my dolls I'm reminded just how many dolls are in existent and how many more on being created. This leads me to think about how harmful this material is for me to hold and even more so for the people who make them and for the environment they are in. Plus the waste from these products must be horrible.
      I imagine that these dolls do not just get thrown away because of their cost alone but I'd be curious how many are made each year and what it is compared to the current 'population'.

      Of course there's basically everything else we do in our lives (I contributing to it like everyone else) that is killing our planet but I'd like to know some people's thoughts on this? Not only on the planet but on the workers who are making our dolls and really the industry in general. I've been so far removed I'd like to know more about this from people who know more then I do.

      P.S. Please let me know if this is not allowed
      • x 3
    2. When I compare the world-changing pollution and destructive capabilities of the megacorporations to the smaller industries like BJD manufacturing, I don't worry about a few more dolls in the world. It's like getting all upset over plastic straws in the ocean when half of the plastic garbage out there is old fishing nets/equipment. Shaming the individual instead of creating and enforcing better industry standards is counterproductive in the extreme.

      Concern over the health of BJD creators and the workforce that needs health and safety equipment is more of an issue to me. How can I be sure that the people who make the dolls are wearing properly-maintained respirators and eye protection and getting adequate general conditions and a living wage and all sorts of things? I can't. I have to trust that the small companies are at least abiding by their government's rules for workplace safety and perhaps going beyond that to take care of their staff.

      Also, every time I see someone strap on a respirator or film a DIY video without proper eye protection, I die a little inside. You guys need to learn about goggles.
      #2 mrsporkspeaks, Dec 2, 2019
      Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
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    3. I absolutely agree with @mrsporkspeaks. Compared to some of the massive issues we have when it comes to corporations and the environment, the comparatively tiny market for and manufacturing of BJDs is barely a molecule in the bucket, let alone a drop. I also agree about focusing more on the people involved; thankfully, even the largest BJD companies are relatively small, and hopefully, as artists, are used to working with the materials and what precautions to take with them. It’s an interesting question for sure, though perhaps not where I’d focus my energies when it comes to worldly issues, personally. :3nodding:
      • x 5
    4. I'm not going to say that resin isn't just one more horrible thing that humans have introduced to poison the environment, because of course it is. But as you said yourself, these dolls are not exactly a disposable commodity - it will be a long time before most of the ones that have been made even to this point will be thrown away, and when they are, they will most likely be in trash bags amongst the billions of tons of other garbage that sits in dumps and landfills, never being exposed to the dirt or the air, never biodegrading because there is so much of it that it can't. When you consider the toy market and the millions of toxic plastic playthings that are broken and tossed each year, filling the air and water with their byproducts when they're created, BJDs are a minuscule threat in comparison. I'm not trying to make light of your concern, because it's a worthy one - but until all toxic materials are regulated, this one is such a tiny niche that it's hard for most people to get worked up over.

      As for the people who work in the industry, one can only hope that job-related health liability would lead manufacturers to keep their employees as safe as possible.
      • x 5

    5. This past year, I've been taking a break from buying BJD's, only buying some inexpensive vintage off topic (yet still plastic) dolls. During this time I've been questioning my purchases and ownership of resin and/or plastic dolls and also my promoting of the creation of more dolls via pre-orders, etc.
      I wonder what effect they may be having on my health off-gasing in my small apartment and in my bedroom in particular which is where I have my BJD cabinet.
      I also wonder about what will happen to them at the end of my life, will they just be thrown in the trash, or will they have broken down long before that. I have some of the original plastic dolls from the 40's and 50's and their plastic off gases and breaks and crumbles and there is nothing left but to throw them in the garbage.
      What will be the shape of current resin dolls 70 years from now?
      • x 1
    6. @midolls*melissa
      I found this New York Times article very interesting in reference to your questions regarding the lifespan of plastics and plastics that we don't see as disposable, the (unfortunate) way that many of our plastic items are thought of.
      These Cultural Treasures Are Made of Plastic. Now They’re Falling Apart.
      At the end of the day, even our dolls will start to degrade in the ways described in the article, but the lifespan is long enough that we can enjoy the dolls for much/all of our lives. Vinyl can degrade faster, since it is softer so has more plasticizers? I believe? This is from scrounged bits of information that I've come across (I'm in no way an expert on this subject), but it is of interest to me because of this hobby.

      As for the main question, I do think about the environmental impact of this hobby. Not only the materials themselves, but also shipping them across the world.
      It's difficult. I think that there is a place for art in the world. I think it is important and has meaning and that doll creators are creating something of worth when they make these dolls. Is there an impact? Yes. Of course. But I try to balance it with other aspects of my life by being careful not to be wasteful in other ways. This hobby brings me so much joy. Is it selfish to stick with it then? I don't know. But I would be very sad without it, so for me it is worthwhile.
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    7. I'm glad to participate in an interesting discussion about the environment and this hobby. I do mostly agree with the above posters: the BJD hobby itself isn't the worst offender in terms of pollution and pollutants. I do try to purchase things second-hand and relatively local where possible to minimize the environmental harm (and I also purchase very few things new for myself which is a bigger offset). But I'm also concerned about the environmental effects on the workers in the BJD industry. Are they safe as they work with these hazardous materials? Do they have job security or do they have to work many jobs to make ends meet? Things like that sadden me.
      • x 2
    8. There was a thread about this years ago on here back in the early 2000s. I wonder if it still exists, it was pretty much argued to death there. Not trying to be snooty, I mean if you can find that thread it'd probably put your mind at ease.
      • x 1
    9. To be honest, I hadn't thought of the environmental impact. But I know I should, whether it's a small or big impact, I know I should think about it like I do with other aspects of my life and take responsibility for my own part. Lately I feel that if there are problems in my life/community/environment/ect, that I should start with myself and most importantly don't brush it off.

      I have already started putting myself in the mindset that 2nd hand dolls are okay and I own one at the moment. I also want to keep my collection small. And if I ever decide to buy new in the future, I will look at the company the same way I do any other company and ask them questions directly. I can't just be happy with the doll is beautiful, the company is legit. I will ask them things like "How does your company combat the negative impact humans have on the environment?". I would hope to at least get answers like "We recycle our empty cans of MSC and we use more biodegradable material in our packaging.

      I kept hearing this phrase "Keep the same energy". The context it was used in was that if you feel a certain way about one thing don't be biased when it comes to something you like. So if I am displeased with a certain clothing company because of their negative impact on the environment, the same displeasure should be there for BJD, figure, and tea companies even though I like these things.

      I have a long journey ahead of me X_x.
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    10. Dolls are made on such a small scale they berely influence anything. Besides, they are almost never throwen away, there's little excess material etc. Environmental resin is a thing, too. Mass producted stuff like single-use plates, cups, bottles have bigger impact.
      What would make real difference is prolonged warranty which would motivate us to get objects fixed instead of throwing them away after 2 years. Using things as long as they work and as long as they are sufficient for the work we want to be done. To stop buying bottled water, to stop throwing shoes into dustbin earlier than they fall apart and so on...But that would take changing our general approach, worldview and least but not least how our economy works. This, let's be realictic, isn't possible any time soon. The BJD community seems to be much more aware of these issues than most people are, in my opinion.

      Really dangerous problem we have, but hardly anyone pays any attantion to it, are fields and fields full of rapeseed plants used for production of eco fuel. Not only that the production alone is even more harmful to environment, but the plant itself is also an ecology-catastrofe hazard in so many ways. It's exhaustiig the fertile ground, causes erosion and drying the landscape. Causes bad allergies. Bees dislike it...Large cities with streets entirely covered by concrete and houses without gardens are also part of that problem...

      And I don't even speak about pesticides and herbicides everywhere. Many of these prevent all plants from living, so we have special genetically modified plants able to do that...and thats another problem. All these toxic things are in the plants. And we eat them, animals eat them...and than we eat the animals. There is a myth, modified plants cause cancer and other illnesses. Nope. The herbicides and pesticides cause the health problems.

      I encounter growing fear of global climate changes. It's, as my Granny would say, like mourning properly, but at wrong grave. It's mostly based of misrepresented, incomplete informations taken out of their context.
      I don't want to say it's a claptrap, but it's not that straightforward, either. We do have impact, but largely exagerated one. Changes are natural, unfortunately. They allways happaned, allways will and can't be prevented. Kinds who didn't adapt died off. Like mammoths or dinosaurs, while small mammels turned out to be a success.

      Temperature and temperatures in specific areas are in flux, depending on great many factors. Movement of tectonic plates, for example. It's actually quicklier than one might thing. Not only factor, of course.
      Some areas which were paradises for stoneage farmers are now cold and rainy. No one grows anything there, now. Greenland was green not too long ago. 14 century was extremly warm. We had invasions of locusts in central Europe. On other hand, when my Granny was child, weather was cold and rainy/snowy. Area of land large as aprox 2 Englands (between continetal Europe and England) was flooded aroud 6500 BC. Dinosaurs used to feast on giant equisetums and trees. Giant, because of CO2 and high radiation.

      If some phenomenons become extreme, they provoke response opposite to what caused it or reverse the original phenomenon. Example: ice melts, making seas less salty. This gradually stops streams in the seas (like Gulf Stream etc.) what means cooling of the climate and iceage -- but exception can happen, too many factors are at play. We don't fully understand the workings of the ecosystem. Many of our fixes are in fact akin to throwing stones in glass houses and are potential danger to environment and society both. Especially in combination with human greed.

      Example: EU forbid lightbulbs. But many of the other light-sources I bought smelled of asbestos after couple of minutes-- very very toxic! Some have proven negative impact on eyes, what seems as steady light are very quick pulses of light (we don't notice them but the damage is still done). So I got more expensive, not smelling ones. Many people can't! Fortunatelly, we can still get lightbulbs but they are less quality now and stop working earlier than they used to. Nothing was really solved, situation is just worse.

      Sorry, my post is long and not strictly relevant to dolls.
      • x 3
    11. Couple months late but finally coming around to it!

      Big corporation and our consumer based economy is the issue completely. As an entire global population we have got to change our habits in order for our species to survive. But beyond that I wanted to start a discussion about where/how/who makes our dolls as I realize a lot of us (humans as a whole and not just the BJD community) don't know where anything comes from or what person makes the items we use in our everyday. I know how excited I've been to have them arrive and I definitely didn't think much on who was making it for me.

      Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy my little gang and took them out for photos for the first time in MONTHS. It reminded me why I enjoy BJDs and that their impact is small compared to the entire world. I don't mean to bash anyone who enjoys it. More curious if people think about it?

      But I posted because I was thinking of all the chemicals and harmful materials that go into making a single doll. Hopefully the artist is well paid and taken care of but it amazed me to think that only 4 out of the 8 I had came from small time artists that did it themselves and therefore (hopefully) followed proper protocol.

      Now to come to proper PPE, there are WAY more people than I ever imagined who have no idea what proper PPE is :eek: like y'all have GOT to know that your tiny room is not well ventilated!

      Add: I definitely felt lost with everything and guilty about enjoying my 'plastic dolls'. I have them and I won't throw them away obviously so I figured I'll just remove unnecessary plastic from my life and attempt to plant more native plants. Using them to take more photos of my ladies :)
      I definitely do not look down on someone for enjoying the world of BJD and I completely understand the appeal. I did want to gauge if others also think about it and I'm way behind on reading but it's nice to not feel like the only one!
      #11 ohmyhi, Aug 10, 2020
      Last edited: Aug 10, 2020
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    12. The reality is, that the environmental cost of them is probably pretty bad - as is the case with most things in our consumer society. But it's not really helpful for people to blame & shame themselves or others for the world we live in because we're comparatively powerless, on an individual level. Doll-making hurts the environment; so does food production. It's the whole system that is rotten.

      But I would definitely love to see the community take the lead in asking companies questions & recording the answers here on the wiki. Especially in regard to the impact on workers making the dolls, as well as the environmental impact on the area the dolls are made in. This might help create more pressure on companies with lower standards to improve. I would definitely make a choice about what companies to support based on this research, absolutely. The idea of workers creating these things we know to be dangerous without appropriate PPE freaks me out, and is part of the reason why I'm shopping for a 2nd hand doll.

      It would also be good to maybe push as a community to support different doll materials: wood, porcelain, stiffened fabric. Even without the environmental cost, resin seems like a really irritating material for a doll to be made of in a lot of ways due to the scratching and the dangers of customising it. So it would be cool if a big "BJDs with awesome designs but made out of wood" or similar was to gain prominence, because that would preserve the awesome bits of the collecting and customising hobby, with fewer of the downsides.

      That's a fantastic article, thank you. Really does make you think.
    13. BJDs are pretty environmentally friendly in that they're expensive long-term items not like ABS barbies that get thrown away after a year (by some children, anyway) but also because they're sort of recyclable. Get bored, wipe the face up and have a new one. It's like my fountain pens. When I get bored of a pen I change ink. I don't buy a new pen. Even though I have so many they will last years.

      What does concern me is the shipping. Partly because the items are treasured and re-usable, people sell and trade their dolls overseas. Which is great. it's re-use and it brings people much joy. But while most things I buy are manufactured overseas, BJDs are also heavy! I try to buy second hand dolls that are already in the UK rather than a doll that might have been all over the world coming back here. Doll miles! It's not important but it's a factor in my mind.
    14. One thing to keep in mind re: shipping that *might* help your feelings a bit... Most international express parcels make their overseas trip in the cargo holds of passenger jets. (As a way to get a little profit from their excess cargo space, airlines often contract with postal services to move mail.)

      You aren't adding a huge amount of additional carbon load by putting a doll box on a regularly-scheduled flight along with the rest of the mail, all the passengers and all their luggage. That flight was going to happen, dolls and other mail-order items or not. Having the mail in there too is a pretty efficient choice.
      • x 3
    15. Do we know if this is still the case? I know packages are significantly delayed due to COVID -- is that because fewer passenger flights are chartered? Assuming that's still how most packages are shipped, it does make me feel better about the carbon impact.

      There's a lot of excellent information in this thread. All I have to contribute is that I've been concerned about the environmental impact of the hobby, but I've also noticed how selective my environmental guilt can be. I feel guilty when my hobbies aren't environmentally friendly, but when it's something like, say, food packaging, or driving to work, it doesn't cross my mind. There's no good reason for that double standard. If anybody else feels that way, it's worth examining.
      • x 1
    16. Those contracts didn't just vanish when COVID appeared. Fewer flights is supposedly one of the reasons international mail deliveries have slowed down, above and beyond some countries simply suspending service entirely.

      ETA: As far as "double standards" go... I live in a small house, drive a hybrid car, don't have kids and tend towards vegetarianism. I feel like I'm allowed the small environmental sin that my dolls represent. Each of those other choices have a much larger potential impact than they do.
      #16 Brightfires, Aug 28, 2020
      Last edited: Aug 28, 2020
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