When filmmaker Jon Whelan bought a pair of pajamas for his daughters for Christmas, the whole family was shocked to discover a strange odor coming from the cloth. Concerned, especially after the horrifically painful death of his wife from cancer, Whelan called the company he ordered them from. Not only was the company, Justice, unable to tell him what was on the clothing, it took hiring his own private team of chemical testers to find out what chemicals were actually on the clothing. Despite assurances from all levels of the company, Whelan found that the scent fragrances on the pajamas from Justice included chemicals banned in the United States since the 1970’s. This began a journey where he soon learned the extent of what is placed in products we use every day.
The film points out just how much we, the consumer, don’t know what chemicals are in what we eat, wear, and use everyday. According to the documentary, as a society we are using more man-made chemicals every day, and almost no company has to release the information if which are included in a product if listed simply as a “fragrance.” These items are considered to be trade secrets and are protected by product disclosure acts. Think that’s insane? Wait until you see all the lobbyists trying to keep those chemicals in your life.
One of the most heart breaking sequences involves a teenage boy and his allergy to Axe body spray. After going into anaphylactic shock 3 times in one week, he was forced to begin studying from home in order to not come in contact with the spray. His family begged Unilever, the company that produces Axe, to release the chemical compounds so they could know what to avoid as they shopped for other products. Unilever refused, calling the list of chemicals “proprietary.” Now, he must attend school with epipens at the ready, prepared to stab himself with powerful epinephrine should he start to go into shock. On his first day back, he ended up in the hospital again when a student wore the spray in front of him.
What do fracking and fragrance have in common? A whole mess of the same chemicals evidently. Stink! briefly touches on the fact that the two share some of the same chemicals, and both types of mixtures are currently protected as trade secrets. That’s right, your perfume and chemicals pumped into the ground to loose oil include some of the exact same things.
Stink! scared the hell out of me and had me actually sitting down looking through the products I have in my own bathroom. How many of these items lack a list of the chemicals used in them, and simplify it only as “fragrance.”
Stink! comes to select theaters this week. View http://stinkmovie.com/see-stink-the-movie/ to find out which theaters near you will play the film.