Image Zara Woman Summer 2016 campaign
Second only to oil, the fashion industry has the biggest negative impact on the environment. Which is why Greenpeace launched ‘Detox My Fashion’ in July 2011 and have since been working with over 70 international fashion brands to eliminate hazardous chemicals from their production process. Combined, these companies make up 15% textile production globally, so their efforts to clean up can create massive waves through the industry. From Zara (Inditex) and Adidas to Burberry and Valentino, the brands are being assessed annually on three criteria with the ultimate aim to be chemical free by 2020.
Firstly, the brands must set realistic systems in place in order to reach the 2020 goal. Secondly they must eliminate perfluorinated chemicals, which contribute to water pollution and take a long time to biodegrade, and replace them with a natural and safe alternative. And finally they must be transparent about the changes they are making and the impact their business has on the environment so the consumer can make an informed choice about where to shop.
Each year they compile a report called the Detox Catwalk with the intention to mark the progress of the participants. Ranking the companies in three tiers from most accomplished ‘detox avant garde’, still needs work ‘evolution mode’ and least improved ‘faux pas’, gives consumers an indication at the kind of steps the companies are making to improve their practices.
Two of the biggest fashion business in the world, H&M (who also own Cos and &Other Stories) and Inditex (Zara, Pull&Bear and Bershka) are achieving the highest grade and are expected to meet the 2020 target. Inditex even recently donated €3.7 million to water.org.
However, at the other end of the scale, Nike, Espirit and Victoria Secret are among 16 brands that have done little to show their commitment to their pledge and are ranked in the ‘faux pas’ category.
Ultimately, fast fashion is not an ethical model for us to be functioning on. Water pollution from chemicals is just one of the hundreds of reasons why cheap clothes aren’t sustainable. But with continued action like this from Greenpeace and all the brands involved it is a fantastic and needed step in the right direction.
To find out more about the brands involved and their progress to becoming chemical free see the Detox Catwalk report 2016.