I’ve become increasingly interested and concerned about our daily contact with chemical, toxic substances in our homes and workplaces. Quite simply, we do not know what the long term impacts of such toxic exposure may be. Greenpeace recently published a worrying new report looking at the chemical substances traced in children’s wear. The report ‘A Little Story About the Monsters in Your Closet’ tested 12 well-known clothing brands and found children’s products to be containing hazardous chemicals at each and every company.
Thankfully, awareness of the people making our clothes is gaining traction (not least due to the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh where more than 1000 garment workers died in 2013) however, the environmental impact of textile and clothing production often remains hidden. Environmental pollution from the textile industry is a major problem, particularly in China which produces more textiles than any other country. Greenpeace have published a number of reports as part of their ‘Toxic’ campaign, the latest of which found little distinction between the levels of hazardous chemicals in clothing made for children – a group particularly vulnerable to the effects of these chemicals when released into the environment – and adults, when compared to previous studies.
Adidas, American Apparel, Burberry, C&A, Disney, GAP H&M, Li-Ning, Nike, Primark, Puma and Uniqlo were all subject to toxicity tests as part of the investigation. Among the results one adidas swimsuit contained higher levels of PFOAs (can cause adverse impacts on the reproductive system and the immune system) than permitted in their own Restricted Substance List, while printed fabric on a Primark children’s t-shirt contained 11% phthalates. Not only are such chemicals toxic to the environment, both through production and through later waste water seeping back into the environment after laundering, we have very little knowledge of how toxins affect our bodies.
Chih An Lee, Detox Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, said “This is a nightmare for parents everywhere looking to buy clothes for their children that don’t contain hazardous chemicals. These chemical ‘little monsters’ can be found in everything from exclusive luxury designs to budget fashion, polluting our waterways from Beijing to Berlin. For the sake of current and future generations brands should stop using these monsters.”
Want to know more?
Watch the video ‘Detox: How People Power is Cleaning Up Fashion’ and check out the Greenpeace Detox reports available online.
Want to take action?