Friday, February 14, 2014

Greenpeace's 5 Step Detox Program for the Fashion Industry

What are the steps required to detox the fashion industry? Greenpeace has proposed 5 crucial steps.

Step 1 - Commit to Detox
Step 2 - Spot the monsters
Step 3 - Come clean
Step 4 - Beware of the unknown monsters
Step 5 - Be accountable

Step 1 - Commit to Detox

Brands need to start by admitting they have a toxic problem they are willing to solve. A Detox commitment makes brands individually responsible for delivering credible steps towards a toxic-free future on behalf of their consumers and local communities.

Step 2 - Spot the monsters

Next, brands should work with their suppliers to find where in the production process notorious chemical monsters like nonylphenol ethoxylathes (NPEs) are hiding. Once spotted, brands need to demand their suppliers use alternatives, for example, detergents and dyes, that are free from hazardous chemicals. If there is no good alternative available yet, these global corporations should use their collective power and influence to work alongside chemical suppliers to develop them.

Step 3 - Come clean

Be open and honest about what chemicals suppliers are releasing into our waterways. In most of the countries where our clothes are produced these ‘discharges’ are not regulated or recorded. Greenpeace has worked with fellow NGO the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) to set up the world’s first publicly accessible voluntary reporting system. Already, leading brands like Mango have helped ensure that more than 100 suppliers are disclosing their discharges online.

Step 4 - Beware of the unknown monsters

For many of the approximately 5,000 chemicals used in the textile industry we don’t have anywhere near enough information about their hazardous properties. To make sure we know which little monsters are actually ending up in our clothes and rivers, brands need a screening process to identify them in order to create a blacklist. This may sound like a pretty huge task, that’s why they have until the end of 2019 to do it. Of course, we expect them to start acting towards this date already.

Step 5 - Be accountable

It is really important that brands committed to Detox are accountable and open to their customers, local communities and civil society. As global citizens we have a crucial role to play to monitor these corporations in their path to zero discharges, congratulating those making real progress and exposing and encouraging those that are failing to meet their promises by using Detox to greenwash.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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