Adidas needs to earn its stripes by championing a toxic-free future

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Feature Story - 2011-08-23
Our latest research reveals that there is a good chance that the clothes you are wearing may contain nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), chemicals which can break down in water to form nonylphenol (NP) -- a toxic, persistent and hormone-disrupting chemical. 52 out of 78 garments from 14 global clothing brands tested positive for NPEs, including four Adidas articles.

The cycle of toxics in our clothing.

This is a global problem that is pervasive across the entire textile sector. It is a challenge that demands strong and decisive leadership from major brands and innovators to pave the way for industry-wide change. It is an issue that is calling out for champions and change-makers -- for people who can make things happen.

What more proof do they need? The Detox campaign has inspired Puma and Nike to take the lead in detoxing their products and their supply chains, but Adidas is still on the starting blocks.

Nike and Puma are "all in" - but where is Adidas?

Thanks to the Detox campaign and your fantastic support, Nike and Puma (the world’s #1 and #3 sportswear brands) have already committed to work with their suppliers and eliminate all toxic chemicals from their supply chains and products by 2020.

Dirty Laundry 2

Dirty Laundry 2

Our second Dirty Laundry report presents the results of a study that analyzed clothing and certain fabric-based shoes sold internationally by major clothing brands.

Clothing by leading brands including Adidas, H&M, Calvin Klein, Abercombie & Fitch and ten others are manufactured using nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), which break down to form toxic nonylphenol (NP). Nonylphenol is a persistent chemical with hormone-disrupting properties that build up in the food chain, and is hazardous even at very low levels.

The clothing sampled was made from both natural and synthetic fabrics, and included items designed for men, women and children. A variety of items were tested including shirts, jackets, trousers, underwear and fabric-based shoes.

What do the findings mean?

By failing to take action to eliminate these chemicals, global brands like Adidas are expecting customers to do their dirty laundry for them. Every time clothes containing these chemicals are washed, hazardous substances are released into waterways across the world.

Even where wastewater treatment facilities are present, they are unable to fully breakdown NPEs, and instead only partially degrade them – often even speeding up their conversion into the toxic NP. In other words -- washing the chemicals out of your new gear before you wear it (for piece of mind!) will only spread the water pollution locally.

The findings provide a snapshot of the kind of toxic chemicals that are being released by the textile industry into waterways all over the world and are indicative of a much wider problem.

The clothing items where these chemicals were detected were bought and manufactured in locations all over the world, demonstrating that the use and release of hazardous chemicals is a widespread and pervasive problem that is having serious, long-term and far-reaching consequences for people and wildlife.

The world needs more champions

This research shines a spotlight on the issue of toxic chemicals and reveals the truth behind the marketing hype wrapped around many of these international clothing brands. People have a right to know about the chemicals that are present in their clothing and the harmful effects these chemicals can have when released into waterways in China and all over the world.

Brands must remove these chemicals from their products, and the best way to do this is to eliminate them from their production processes and to come clean about what chemicals their factories are using and discharging.

It's time Adidas earned its stripes

By committing to clean up their act, Nike and Puma are demonstrating their seriousness and resolve to solve this issue and create a better world.

Adidas have a lot of ground to make up. If they want to be considered contenders, they need to get in the game by committing to zero discharge and really take the lead by developing a new culture of transparency throughout the clothing industry.

As a company, Adidas needs to "come clean" and disclose to the public the hazardous chemicals used and released into the environment during its production processes and -- if it wants to be a real leader -- turn words into action and show us real change on the ground in countries such as China, where water pollution is such an urgent problem for people and wildlife.

The world needs champions. Are Adidas "all in" for leading the way towards a toxic-free future, or are they hoping to leave it to Puma, Nike and would-be champions to JUST DO IT for them?

Now get involved in our global Detox campaign, and email the CEO of Adidas today.

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