The Detox campaign was launched in 2011 to expose the direct links between global clothing brands, their suppliers and toxic water pollution around the world. Fieldwork and investigations in manufacturing countries, along with the testing of branded garments for traces of hazardous chemicals, resulted in the release of groundbreaking reports that exposed the toxic truth behind our clothes.
The campaign kicked off by challenging global sportswear brands to champion a toxic-free future. Since then, some of the world’s largest fashion retailers have also come under the spotlight. The call for fashion made without pollution has also been echoed by big names within the fashion scene, including designers, models and bloggers, many of whom have signed the Detox Fashion Manifesto.
Since July 2011, the Detox campaign has mobilised hundreds of thousands of people around the world to challenge major clothing brands to eliminate all releases of hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and products. So far, the campaign has been able to secure public commitments from eighteen international brands: 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). For these companies, the focus now turns towards creating concrete elimination plans for the most hazardous substances, as well as providing greater transparency around the chemicals that their suppliers currently release into our shared waterways.
In October 2013 Greenpeace International released the Detox Catwalk, assessing the steps taken by clothing companies towards their Detox commitments. The Catwalk revealed that while leading names like H&M, Mango and Uniqlo were matching their words with concrete actions, Nike, adidas and Li-Ning had failed to walk the talk and follow through on their promises. The Catwalk also highlighted the Laggards that have still yet to make a credible Detox commitment despite their implication in the toxic scandal.
In the latest report, published in November 2012, presents the results of an investigation that found residues of a variety of hazardous chemicals in clothing made by 20 global fashion brands, including Zara, Calvin Klein, Levi’s and Victoria’s Secret. The chemicals found included high levels of toxic phthalates and cancer causing amines from azo dyes. Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), which can break down to form a toxic and hormone-disrupting substance when released into the environment, were found in trace levels in clothing items from every single brand tested.
The use of these chemicals in manufacturing results in water pollution that affects millions of people around the world. In China alone, one third of the population lacks access to clean drinking water. The textile industry is one of the biggest polluters.
Aside from being critical habitats for wildlife, waterways such as rivers and lakes also provide vital resources for almost all life on Earth. Many people rely on this water for drinking, for farming, and for foods like fish and shellfish. Yet these vital public water sources are often abused by industry and treated as if they were private sewers.
The dispersal of hazardous chemicals from our clothes into water systems, both when they are manufactured and after they are sold, should be addressed by their rapid and transparent substitution with safer alternatives.
To find out how you can be part of the Greenpeace Detox campaign, click here.