Transparency in Product Design


It’s the Christmas season again, and the expectation to get something great for the folks back home is set high above my frame. I decide to get my parents a kayak, the inflatable kind that fits inside the car. They’ve always talked about getting one, but never have because they had worries about transporting one from our home to X destination. So I was pretty happy when I made the purchase. It was a big one, that’s for sure. 

When it was delivered to me earlier to week, I found a warning label on the box that says “This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, or birth defects or other reproductive harm.” Now, I know that Prop 65 demands that this warning label is placed on many products that may not even have any dangerous chemicals in them, but I wanted to check with the company anyway to see what was up with the label. 


I decided to call the Sea Eagle customer support number yesterday. “Hi, I have a question about the warning label on the Kayak I just bought”…”Ok.” I ask what parts of the product contain the chemicals mentioned on the label, and the lady on the other end replies, “I have no idea.” “Is there anyone I could talk to who might know?”…”No.” “There’s no one on your staff who might know?”…


Needless to say, this conversation was not very fruitful. I knew that I wasn’t getting anywhere, but I wanted to know if the company cared at all about customer concerns like mine. If there’s lead in the PVC material used to make the kayak, I want to know if exposure to it is going to harm the people using it. I want to know what’s in the things that I buy. I want to know when companies are going to start being open with their customers. I want some transparency, and yesterday, I didn’t find it.


“The Challenge to Make Chocolate Child Labour Free”

I just found these videos, and I’m incredibly sad to hear that 300,000 children are employed on cocoa plantations where they work in conditions that expose them to toxic pesticides and injury. It seems that so much of what we consume these days is part of a system that involves exploitation of human labor. The socio-economic imbalance that capitalism spawns is something that makes me question what we as a society really value.