Greenpeace Tries to Scare Kids off Chemicals

In online story, Eco-group warns of chemical ‘monsters’ with tentacles, ‘giant fists.’

If you’re trying to convince your child that there’s no such thing as monsters, Greenpeace just made your life a lot harder.

Greenpeace recently unveiled a new anti-chemical campaign aimed directly at children, warning them that “little monsters” are hiding in their clothes. They published an online children’s story, as well as a Field Guide describing different chemicals commonly used in clothing as scary monsters.

This recent push is part of a widespread Greenpeace “Detox” campaign against allegedly hazardous chemicals in children’s clothes. Greenpeace marked the launch of this new campaign with a video displaying a group of children creating “a human banner” reading “Detox Our Future.”

Greenpeace warned that “small creatures hide in the shoes, shirts and skirts worn by children across the globe.”

The Greenpeace story “A Little Story About the Monsters in Your Closet” began like a fairy tale with “once upon a time.” It described how workers were “forced” to use “Little Monsters” while making clothing, alongside a picture of cartoonish monsters in a garment factory. The story continued by describing how these monsters “affected everyone,” accompanied by pictures of sad and angry children.

In a further attempt to appeal to children, Greenpeace also hyped a Little Monsters “Field Guide to Hazardous Chemicals.” This online booklet illustrated chemicals such as phthalates and nonylphenol, portraying them as cartoon monsters with “powerful tentacles” or “giant fists” and warning of scary effects such as giving “boy fish girl characteristics.”

Nadia Haiama, Greenpeace EU policy director on chemicals, also released a blog post on Jan. 14.  In this article, she warned that Greenpeace found “the presence of hazardous chemicals in clothing made by 12 very well known brands.” Haiama urged readers to “join the movement” and use social media to pressure major clothing brands to discontinue the use of these chemicals.

But the chemicals under attack by Greenpeace, may not be as dangerous as they claim. The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) criticized a 2012 Greenpeace initiative against nonylphenol ethoxylates, one of the so-called “Little Monsters.” ACSH wrote in February 2013 that tests “conclude that typical exposure to [nonylphenol ethoxylates] does not pose a risk to human health.”

Similarly, both ACSH and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) have cast doubt on the hysteria over another Greenpeace boogeyman: phthalates. In the same February 2013 analysis, ACSH debunked allegations that phthalates increase the risk of diabetes. In November 2013, AEI criticicized the media for “alarmist headlines” about complicated science about the chemical’s relationship to infertility. AEI concluded, “Real world research doesn’t suggest humans face any serious dangers from phthalates.”

This is not the first time that Greenpeace has used children to promote their left-wing agenda. In 2007, they promoted a video of an angry child accusing climate change skeptics of being against children’s futures. In 2009, Greenpeace’s Annie Leonard released a 20 minute political commercial called “The Story of Stuff” to promote anti-capitalist views and argue against consumerism. The movie had become “a sleeper hit” in school classrooms, according to The New York Times.

— Sean Long is Staff Writer at the Media Research Center. Follow Sean Long on Twitter.