Media

Why is big fashion still not going green?

Published at: 20 October 2016

Despite pressure from all sides of society the fashion industry is still one of the most outdated when it comes to sustainability

In 2011 environmental awareness organization Greenpeace got 19 of the world’s most important fashion players to commit themselves to ‘eliminating hormone-disrupting industrial chemicals’ in their production processes. But it’s only five years later and it seems like the wheels of the Greenpeace campaign are falling off, resulting in what the organization is now calling Green Faux Pas for the “many uncommitted toxic addicts” in the fashion business.

“For decades, industrial companies have chosen to use the environment and in particular our waterways as a dumping ground for hazardous chemicals, unhindered by ineffective government regulations.” The group says on the Detox 2020 website, which sets a timeline on the development of these brand’s commitments.

“For local communities living near manufacturing facilities water pollution has become a daily reality. Regulations have not always prevented the release of toxic chemicals into the environment, particularly in the Global South, because for persistent, hazardous chemicals, there is no ‘safe’ level.” They say, pointing out on the site exactly, name-for-name, who is responsible for these environmental crimes against humanity.

Topping the list of the worst performers in their Detox 2020 commitments are Esprit, Limited Brands (which runs Victoria’s Secret), Li-Ning, and Nike, who the organization says continues to “greenwash” it’s products. The companies are, Greenpeace said, “failing to take individual responsibility for their supply chain´s hazardous chemical pollution”.

The most changed brands to be celebrated by Greenpeace this year were Benetton, H&M and Inditex (which operates Zara), whose progress was now on the level of the “Detox Avante Garde”, meaning that the brand performed in all three categories that Greenpeace is using to judge the competition. These three categories are: The Detox 2020 Plan, which focusses on a company’s chemicals management system; the PFC Elimination which assesses the progress made towards the commitment to eliminate any use and discharge of one of the widely used hazardous chemical groups per/poly fluorinated chemicals (PFCs); and Transparency, which evaluates whether the company has ensured that its suppliers regularly publish data on the discharge of hazardous chemicals from their wet processes on the Detox section of the IPE online platform.

At this point in the Detox 2020 campaign it seems like many of the brands are losing steam in their commitments, so make sure you follow the movements of the process and decided what brands you will support in the coming years.

Read Jasmin Malik Chua’s article on the campaign for the full fashion low-down.

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