2011 saw six of the world's biggest clothing brands commit to the elimination of hazardous chemicals and begin to Detox - all thanks to the power of the people. Pressure is now mounting on those who have yet to commit; they must stop making excuses and start acting for change. To help, I've put together an easy-to-follow programme to help these companies cut their toxic addiction - and begin their journey to clean production.
Dear polluting clothing brands,
It looks like 2012 is set to be remembered as the year when it will be no longer acceptable to continue with the 'business as usual' of our planet and millions of people in China suffer at the expense of your polluting behavior.
Six of you are already on the road to recovery; now it's time to for the rest of you to come clean, and to help we have created a simple step-by-step guide to aid you in cutting your toxic addiction:
Step 1: Admit that you have a problem.
Just like any addict, the first step is admitting that you have an issue that you need to deal with and that your problem is impacting upon the lives of others. Talk to your CEO about it, and if you are the CEO, talk to the board and your employees. Tell them that this behavior has to stop.
Step 2: Go big or go home.
Commit to eliminating ALL hazardous chemicals used across your ENTIRE supply chain and in ALL your products by 2020 (those with a competitive streak can opt to commit to a date before 2020). Be sure to make your commitment public – pop it on your website, put in your annual report and tell your customers too – because if it's public, then there is no going back.
Step 3: Be open about your progress.
You want to show your customers your progress, right? Demonstrate that your supply chain is releasing less and less pollution, that your products are becoming toxic free and that you are storming ahead of the competition? Well then it that case you will need to be transparent about everything you are doing to come clean, release the data online in an easily understandable and searchable way for all to see, starting from day one.
Step 4: Tackle the obvious problems first
The textile industry uses a whole host of chemicals that need to be eliminated, some are already banned or regulated in certain regions and these should be the first to go. Such an approach will not only deal with the nastiest chemicals first, but it will also show your customers and your suppliers that you are really serious about kicking the habit and creating transformational change.
Step 5: Make your own action plan.
Now that you have committed to Detox, you need to look into details – the necessary nitty-gritty. How you will manage your supply chain communication? What green chemical alternatives will you look into? Can you simply do without some of these chemicals? Creating the plan will help you establish the answers to these important questions and identify next steps, timelines and deadlines. Each company needs to make its own action plan, because each has its own unique set of challenges and opportunities.
Step 6: Join a support group
Feeling lonely? Join others. You do not have to, but several brands that are on the Detox programme already started a "self-help" club. Not anonymous, not perfect, but helpful. They were asking others what they think about their plan to come clean and got some interesting comments.
Step 7: Make it happen
Most of all, this process is about turning words in action. It is about eliminating chemicals with toxic, hormone-disrupting properties from your supply chain and products and setting global standards across all your production facilities so that people around the world have access to clean, unpolluted water.
By taking these steps to Detox you are doing the right thing. So be bold, innovate and become a champion for a toxic-free future by abandoning your toxic past and embracing a new way of doing business that your employees, customers and fans can all be proud of.
The world is watching you.
Martin Hojsik is Head of the Detox Campaign at Greenpeace International - you can follow him at @mhojsik