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Friday, August 21, 2009

Lands' End Mini Lunch Tote PVC-Coated or NOT?

Recently, I have been communicating with Lands' End to no avail. I sent two letters to their email stating concerns of one of their lunch totes listed as "PVC-coated". My first letter to them was as follows:

I recently read the Back-to-School Guide to PVC-free school supplies by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ).

As a mom to 5 girls, I constantly seek out products that are safe for the environment and healthy for my family. When searching for new lunch bags for my 2 school-age daughters, I noticed that Lands' End was listed as a source for PVC lunch boxes and bags. I ordered two of your lunch sacks today and am glad to see they are PVC free.

I was unhappy, however, that during my search, I noticed that in the "More Info" of the Mini Lunch Tote, the exterior is PVC coated 100% cotton! I bought this very lunch tote for my oldest daughter last year and never noticed this information! I am appalled to think that she used this bag all of last year! If only I had known, I would have chose a different bag.

When I click on Lunchboxes to shop on your site, the top picture states "Plus, our lunch boxes are PVC-free & easy-to-clean" and below this, the Mini Lunch Tote is listed as one of the choices. Perhaps this should be removed from the list because, in fact, if someone believes the above statement and doesn't happen to click on the separate tab for "More Info" they would be unaware of the PVC exterior coating as I had been last year. It is quite misleading!

The majority of people seeking out PVC-free lunch bags would overlook any "fine print" as stated in the "More Info" of this particular bag due to the front page promo of "PVC-free and easy-to-clean". They would trust in the company's advertising and may possible be fooled as I had been in buying this very same tote last year.

Thank you for your interest in my complaint and I eagerly await your response.

Unfortunately, Lands' End never responded to my first letter.

However, they did remove the ad that claimed their lunch bags were "PVC-free and easy-to-clean" the very next day.

Yesterday, I was shopping Lands' End online again. I may have a complaint but
I remain a loyal customer to Lands' End. They have always been my go-to place for age-appropriate clothing and back-to-school backpacks and lunch bags!

I noticed that the "PVC-coated 100% cotton" had been removed from their Mini Lunch Tote listing under "More Info". That was confusing to me. It seemed more misleading then ever because now they were not divulging this "PVC" information.

I found it to be a bit "What they don't know won't hurt them". I decided to use their Live Chat feature to talk to someone about this.

Here is the transcript of the Live Chat conversation (the person's name that I talked with was removed by me). Click to enlarge:

After this conversation, I decided to write to Lands' End again. Here was my second letter, long-winded but I wanted them to understand my concerns:

Today I went under "School Uniforms" and selected "Backpacks and Gear" and then "Lunch Boxes". The mini-lunch tote under "More Info" now says, "Exterior is a coated cotton canvas."

Well, I already am aware that the "coated" exterior is PVC-coated so I am wondering why the PVC labeling was removed.

I decided to Live Chat with someone to ask about this. "Name-removed" kindly explained that it IS PVC-coated and in another area of Lands' End (under Home, then Totes and Bags, then Backpacks and Lunch Boxes, then Lunch Boxes) the mini-lunch tote under the tab "More Info" is listed as PVC-coated.

"Name-removed" mentioned she would request that the information under the
"School uniform selection" would be changed. I think as a customer in search of School Items (lunch bags and backpacks, in particular) would find this mini-lunch tote where the PVC labeling is not evident.

I would like to see this resolved sooner rather than later. These are crucial weeks before school starts in my area and there are many concerned parents that may shop for your lunch bags and be unaware of the improper labeling.

Thanks, again, for your interest in my complaint. I hope to see a response from you this time.

Today, I checked to see if the descriptions had been changed in both "areas" that this lunch bag could be bought. It had been changed and now I was more confused than before!!

The new information under the Mini Lunch Tote "More Info" tab says, "Exterior is durable canvas coated with PEVA, a non-chlorinated vinyl, so it resists stains and cleans up in a snap".

Wow. How did "PVC-coated 100% cotton canvas" get changed to "durable canvas coated with PEVA, a non-chlorinated vinyl" seemingly overnight? The product remains the same so why the drastic change? We are not even talking semantics here. These are two totally different descriptions!

For your information, PVC, has been deemed the poison plastic.
Commonly referred to as vinyl, PVC is one of the most hazardous consumer products ever created.

Quoting from the Center for Health, Environment and Justice:

"PVC is dangerous to human health and the environment throughout its entire life cycle, at the factory, in our homes, and in the trash. Our bodies are contaminated with poisonous chemicals released during the PVC lifecycle, such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates, which may pose irreversible life-long health threats. When produced or burned, PVC plastic releases dioxins, a group of the most potent synthetic chemicals ever tested, which can cause cancer and harm the immune and reproductive systems."

PEVA, is a
polyethylene vinyl acetate, a copolymer of polyethylene and EVA primarily used in shower curtains, body bags and has now found its way into some sandwich wraps. Can we assume that PEVA is non-toxic because there is no C (chlorine)? Read more about PEVA, *here*.

The Healthy Building Network states in Sorting Out the Vinyls:

"With the exception of paints, glues and certain films, “vinyl” as a product description almost always means made of PVC. The term vinyl in ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA), polyvinyl acetate (PVA), and polyvinyl butyral (PVB), however, does not refer to PVC and does not raise the same concerns associated with chlorinated molecules like PVC. "

I do not have a chemist at my disposal that will test out these products. As a consumer, I have to be informed and choose wisely, trusting in the companies and the descriptions they give of their products.

Therefore, I wonder. Which is it Lands' End? PVC or PEVA?

If you are concerned or would like to write to Lands' End to ask about this description change, the email address can be found on their Contact Us page *here*.

But, good luck to you. I have yet to receive a reply.


  1. wow. thank you for sharing all that. that is frightening, given that i trust land's end as a company, too, but the wording change to PEVA is particularly startling.

    do you sew? (sorry, can't remember at the moment.) can you sew a lunch bag so at least you know what's in it?


  2. Wow. I JUST received one of Land's End's mini lunch totes in the mail which IS listed as PVC free.

    I really really hope this is accurate.

    It still shocks me to think that anyone would sell ANYTHING containing PVC.
    It is such a disastrous substance.

  3. try asking lands end about the chemicals used in their school uniforms to make them stain free and wrinkle free....good luck with that!


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