The toxic tale behind your clothing

Posted by Yifang Li — 23 November 2012 at 10:40am - Comments
Detox models
All rights reserved. Credit: Lance Lee/Greenpeace
Fashion companies like Zara are using toxic chemicals to make their clothes

What are you wearing today? Touch it. Go on. What does it feel like? Yes, you're touching a piece of clothing. You're touching a type of fabric. You're touching a fashion choice. And yet, there's more to it: You're also touching a story. Because every piece of clothing – in your wardrobe, in my wardrobe, in everyone's wardrobe – has a story.

Get the report: Toxic Threads

Right now, fashion brands are writing this story for us. It features public waterways that are being treated like private sewers. It features poisoned rivers. It features hazardous, persistent and hormone-disrupting chemicals that can cause serious damage to ecosystems and livelihoods.

I don't know about you, but we here at Greenpeace don't like that whole story. We love our clothes; we really do. We use our clothes to express ourselves and present ourselves to the world. But we are passionately united behind the belief that our fashion shouldn't literally cost the earth.

No – our clothes don't have to be laced with toxic chemicals. They don't have to be manufactured without transparency and cause toxic water pollution. They don't have to be designed to wear out faster than we can buy them.

There is another way – and it's people like you who'll bring it about. Because here's the thing: The brands that make what we wear are listening to us. Why? Because without us they're nothing. That's right: NOTHING. And they know this.

We’re not cogs in their machine.

We have an amazing power over them – individually, but even more so, when we come together.

We call it #PeoplePower – and it just keeps growing: We're people who love our clothes – and we're ready to push things forward. That's why this year, Greenpeace’s Detox Campaign is delving even further into the hazardous chemicals used in the production of our high street fashion. 

Today, we are exposing the links between textile manufacturing facilities using toxic chemicals and water pollution. Our investigation includes 20 global fashion brands, and testing on 141 products sold by the leading fashion brands, such as Zara, Chinese fashion label Metersbonwe, Calvin Klein, Levi's, Mango, Tommy Hilfiger and Vero Moda.

We demand brands eliminate releases of hazardous chemicals into the environment and products. The best way to do this is to replace them with safer alternatives. And to show that they mean it, they must be transparent and disclose what each of their suppliers are releasing into our environment from their facilities.

If the brands that have the real power and influence work with their suppliers to pioneer safe alternatives to hazardous chemicals, and bring them to market quickly, others will follow. If #PeoplePower keeps pushing this hard enough, we can change things globally, and forever.

Just consider what we have achieved already: Seven major international brands (Puma, Nike, Adidas, H&M, M&S, C&A and Li-Ning) have committed to change – because you told them to.

But so far brands such as Zara remain silent. If you share our vision for the future, join us in calling on Zara to Detox our fashion!

Tell Zara we don’t want hazardous chemical in our clothing or our waterways. Together, we can take control of the story our clothes tell – and make it a better one for all of us.

Yifang Li is a Detox campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia

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Dear All

I am surprised  (and happy) to see this campaign regarding toxic chemical in
clothes. Bad advert for some companies but these companies are still selling A
LOT...Why?? There is a Lack of control by the governments! And the majority of Consumers
is looking for bargains ...it is the recession...

A number of companies e.g. retailers are importing products from Far
East a low costs, especially for Xmas. Do you think that they will control all
imported items which are more and more regulated in EU? No, they won't, as this
will need more resources and specific expertise, which will impact costs and
deliveries...( not good for Xmas!!).

There is a way to please competent authorities, they will  add a
specific paragraph in their contracts, requesting their suppliers comply with
some specific requirements requested within EU regulation ( e.g. REACH, ROHS,
EN71, etc...). Write a procedure which nobody will follow, but in case of
inspection, it looks great.

Do you believe that suddenly in China, they will stop using phthalates? Some
phthalates probably as there is a focus on them but what about the rest...? Do
you think that for Xmas, companies have anticipated the new added hazardous
chemicals in the so called candidate list, "the black list" or SVHC
list published by ECHA, when they were preparing the next marketing campaign a
year before? Who has time and resources to control cheap items'
composition?  Which suppliers in the Far East can provide such information ( only a few) ? Knowing that competent authorities have not enough resources
to control imports ..Or as in UK, companies might receive an improvement notice
;-( if they are inspected)...So companies might continue to import products
containing toxic chemicals...Some NGOs have started to spot check products in
some stores but...it is enough if competent authorities from each member state
have no real power...

A question: what about some stores where they print photos...Do customers
know that they might breathe in, some hazardous volatile chemicals in some stores?

I am aware that some companies try to increase control on products they
place on the market...I would say only a few..

 it is nearly Xmas...and everyone is looking for cheap products...

If your Xmas gift contains a perfume from a well known brand  with other items(e.g. a cosmetic bag + gloves+ a mirror + brush , do you think that these items are also highly controlled?

you will be surprised....

We can all admit to secretly being in love with Japanese culture.192.168.1.1

Great Campaign. Probably playing up self interest is a good idea - the idea you might get cancer yourself from the clothing toxins rather than just the pollution in far off places.

I agree with Sowal Keevashan. Everything everywhere now carries wide array of chemicals contaminants that accumulate in our body and environment with having far-reaching consequences. Chemicals are used for making various things from bags, gloves, water-resistant jackets to unbreakable plastics. I come to know about various chemicals like phthalates are used in many cosmetics; perfluorooctanoic acid is found in nonstick and stain-repellant coatings by the investigative journalist Nena Baker's book <a href="http://www.printsasia.co.uk/book/the-body-toxic-how-the-hazardous-chemistry-of-everyday-things-threatens-our-health-and-well-being-0865477469">The Body Toxic</a>. Moreover, Teflon, Lead and DDT are in our environment and food that will lead to cancer, diabetes, attention deficit, and many other diseases. I think that we don't have any option now but to put up with the consequences on our health.

However, I really appreciate greenpeace campaign against the fashion brands using toxic chemicals in the manufacture.

 

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I agree with
Sowal Keevashan. Everything everywhere now carries wide array of chemicals
contaminants that accumulate in our body and environment with having
far-reaching consequences. Chemicals are used for making various things from
bags, gloves, water-resistant jackets to unbreakable plastics. I come to know
about various chemicals like phthalates are used in many cosmetics;
perfluorooctanoic acid is found in nonstick and stain-repellant coatings by the
investigative journalist Nena Baker's book "The Body Toxic". Moreover, Teflon,
Lead and DDT are in our environment and food that will lead to cancer, diabetes,
attention deficit, and many other diseases. I think that we don't have any
option now but to put up with the consequences on our health.

 

However, I
really appreciate greenpeace campaign against the fashion brands using toxic
chemicals in the manufacture.

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