Greenpeace: Detoxing the Fashion Industry

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Greenpeace is demanding a detox of the fashion variety. Through its Detox Campaign, the organization is calling on the fashion world to pick up the mantle for a toxic-free future.

In 2011, when the campaign was launched, Greenpeace was focused on raising awareness of the link between designers, suppliers, and water pollution. So far, eighteen brands have committed to eliminating toxic waste released during the production process. The brands are: Nike, Adidas, Puma, H&M, M&S, C&A, Li-Ning, Zara, Mango, Esprit, Levi’s, Uniqlo, Benetton, Victoria’s Secret, G-Star Raw Valentino, Coop, and Canepa.

In addition to surging brand interest, the campaign has expanded since 2011. Other initiatives are now nestled under its greater umbrella, including The Fashion Manifesto, and reports like Detox Catwalk and Toxic Threads. The Manifesto has been signed by models, bloggers, designers, and other forces in the fashion industry. It calls for immediate action by brands and suppliers; greater industry transparency; and honesty. The reports are investigative work by Greenpeace. Detox Catwalk examines the progress of brands who have committed the label to sustainability, and Toxic Threads is a research report, identifying hazardous chemicals in the garments produced by top clothing manufacturers.

Printed in 2012, the latter tested 141 garments, from 20 brands and determined some pieces had a cocktail of chemicals stitched into the fabric. As a result, when consumers wash their clothing, they unknowingly and unwillingly add toxicity to water. Out of all the garments tested, 89 came back positive for NPEs. NPEs, or nonylphenol ethoxylates, have been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (or, EPA) as potentially harmful to human health. However, the agency explains the greater risk is posed to wildlife and aquatic life.

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