Let’s talk about clothing. It is something essential, isn’t it? You could hate fashion and you would still need to buy and wear clothes. Who has not ever bought a piece of clothing from brands such as Nike, Adidas, Zara, H&M, Gap or Primark? Do you know that those clothes you have bought could contain toxic substances?
Indeed, yes, they might contain toxic substances. Substances that are thrown into the rivers close to the factories. The low prices that we usually pay for these clothes have an extra human cost paid by local citizens of the countries on where factories are settled. These chemicals are used to color clothes and have a huge impact on the environment and health through the whole supply chain. This happens because the chemicals are disposed into the rivers near the factories, but also when we buy and wash them, as the water used by the washing machine will drain polluted water to the environment.
Greenpeace was concerned with what it was happening with these chemicals and they launched a campaign called ‘Detox’ in 2011.
The first step was to do scientific research in order to be able to prove that they were right. They took small pieces of clothing from different brands from all over the world and analysed them in laboratories where they found out what different chemicals were inside these textiles.
Once they had the evidences, they started to put social pressure on the brands to join ‘Detox’.
If companies accepted to join the initiative to detox, several conditions had be fulfilled in order to become a detox leader:
- They should have removed all the hazardous substances by 2020
- Three fundamental principles should be followed:
- Prevention and precaution: Taking precautionary action towards the elimination of dangerous chemicals.
- Right to know: Total transparency between the brands and the consumers. Consumers have the right to know about the chemicals let off into their waterways.
- Elimination: Eliminating those toxic substances and admitting that there are no environmentally safe levels for hazardous substances.
What happened with Zara?
Well, Zara was one of the first companies that Greenpeace started to attack. Why?
Zara belongs to the Inditex group, the biggest textile group in the world, and the usual strategy that Greenpeace adopts is to attack to the biggest prey, the one that can cause the biggest social impact. As soon as this prey is captured, the rest of the preys will tend to follow the biggest one. This is why Zara was the chosen as the first target of the campaign. Once Zara was convinced to join the Detox campaign, the rest of the brands were easier to convince.
How did they convince Zara to detox?
The only needed nine days of public pressure. Flash mobs, dressed in a very special way, made performances in front of the main boutiques of Zara all around the world. Social networks, bloggers and fashion lovers helped to increase public awareness about toxics in cloths.
Greenpeace also put a video clip on the topic in the social networks. This video imitates the style of a manga movie – a smart way to communicate to the young target group of Fast Fashion.
More brands involved in this campaign
After Zara accepted to detox, more brands started to join this campaign and others just did not want to follow this environmentally friendly change. This is why Greenpeace designed a special website in order to inform the consumer if the brands where they buy their clothes are detoxing or not.
Greenpeace distinguishes between three kinds of brands: detox leaders, green washers and detox losers. The first ones are the brands who are detoxing, the second ones are the brands that said they would detox but they are actually not doing anything and finally the third group is for the brands that have denied the propositions given by Greenpeace.
But, we can all be part of this, we can all chose to detox and buy clothes from the companies that take care of our environment and our health. It is also in our hands.
LET’S HELP THE WORLD, LETS DETOX!
Author: Miguel González López M.I.B. Student