Big brands and fashion models take serious message down the catwalk in Brussels

Press release - 25 April, 2005
Models, music and human health come together at a fashion show aimed at members of the European Parliament and Council in Brussels tomorrow.

We hosted this toxic-free catwalk featuring products by companies that are setting positive examples. We wanted to show the importance of strong laws on chemicals, and how responsible companies have already demonstrated change is possible. We invited European Union (EU) politicians who are currently discussing new laws on chemicals in Europe. The chemical industry and irresponsible companies are lobbying hard against strong chemical law to protect human health and the environment. They claim it will be too expensive and impractical to change. Our toxic free catwalk dispelled that myth in style!

Organised by Greenpeace, the "Substitute with Style" catwalk show will showcase the steps being taken by major consumer brands to stop using hazardous chemicals in a wide range of products, including clothing, cosmetics and even DVD-players and shower curtains.

Companies participating in tomorrow night's show include clothing retailers Hennes & Mauritz and Marks and Spencer, sportswear label Reebok, electronic goods multinationals Sony and Sony Ericsson, furniture giant IKEA, and ecological firms Ecover (detergents and cleaning products), Lavera (cosmetics) and Ethic Wear (organic clothing).

Helen Perivier of Greenpeace International said: "Progressive and innovative companies are taking direct action to remove hazardous chemicals from their products. Substitute With Style is a fun event designed to inspire EU politicians with the evidence that substitution of toxic chemicals is the way forward for Europe's health, environment and industry. A substitution requirement should be at the heart of the new chemicals regulation, which the European Parliament and Council will vote on later this year."

The catwalk will show TVs and mobile phones from which brominated flame retardants have been eliminated, Marks and Spencer kids' T-shirts which do not contain phthalates, and trainers by Reebok that are free of PVC.

Recent research commissioned by Greenpeace* has confirmed the growing scientific evidence that man made hazardous chemicals are prevalent in everything from television sets and running shoes to house dust, rainwater and blood.

The proposed EU chemicals policy (REACH) is designed to regulate the use of such chemicals, in the interest of protecting human health and the environment.

"The consumer brands in our catwalk are the most responsive to public concern about health and the environment, and they clearly demonstrate that substitution is possible and already happening. But many industrial sectors are making no such efforts to stop using toxic chemicals," said Nadia Haiama-Neurohr of Greenpeace European Unit. "There needs to be a strong legal requirement to substitute, to create the dynamism needed to trigger eco-innovation and further research into safer substances."

Other contacts: Press contact for catwalk show: Katharine Mill, tel 02 274 1903Contact on Greenpeace chemicals campaign: Helen Perivier, Greenpeace International toxics campaigner, tel 02 274 1905For information about REACH, contact Nadia Haiama-Neurohr, Greenpeace European Unit chemicals policy adviser, tel 02 274 1913

Notes: For Greenpeace reports on chemicals in consumer products and the environment, see Greenpeace International Chemicals webpageThe REACH Regulation stands for the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals. It was proposed by the European Commission in October 2003.

Exp. contact date: 2005-05-08 00:00:00