Have you ever looked at the back of a product and seen “fragrance” listed vaguely as an ingredient, then perhaps shrugged and assumed it was probably harmless? Or have you opened your child’s car seat box or a package of clothes ordered online and noticed an overwhelming “new” smell to these products? These are pretty common scenarios that occur so frequently we hardly register them, but they are ones that a new film called Stink! is making us rethink.
Stink! follows a father whose wife died from cancer and who is trying to protect his two daughters from toxins. When the pajamas he orders online for them come with a mysterious chemical odor, he attempts to track down what the scent could be and why it would be on children’s clothing in the first place. What he discovers (or rather, what the the dearth of clear, honest information about chemicals makes him realize) is frustrating and infuriating and ultimately turns into a complex journey into the trillion dollar chemical industry. There are over 80,000 chemicals floating around in our nail polishes, lipsticks, perfumes, clothing, and household products, yet only a few hundred of them have been studied by the EPA. With a strong lobbyist presence in Washington D.C. and a complete lack of transparency with terms such as “fragrance” (which can be derived from hundreds of different chemicals), chemical companies have created a system that benefits their bottom line and leaves most consumers in ignorant bliss… that is, until the link between these toxic ingredients and cancer, birth defects, and other health issues is unveiled. Whether you are spraying it on your skin or using it to disinfect your house (or likely both, as one expert says some of the same chemicals are in both Chanel No. 5 perfume and common toilet bowl cleaners), we’re pretty sure you would do anything to avoid these toxins. Yet we are being exposed to them in alarmingly high rates without most of us even knowing, especially since this market is largely unregulated by a single governing body with the consumer’s health interests in mind. Watching Stink! may galvanize you into outraged action or it will at least encourage you to purge your family’s toxic products and carefully consider future purchases. If you use this link (for either purchasing or a 1 week rental of Stink!), $1 will be donated to Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a national coalition that is advocating for tougher laws and regulations on chemical use as well as creating public awareness of the issues.