Last Friday, GAP officially opened its first ever store here in Taiwan. Not wanting to miss out on the party, we decided to mark the occasion by giving GAP a little reminder of its unresolved toxic problems. As the ribbon was cut at the sparkling new store in Taipei, Greenpeace East Asia activists stole the spotlight, dropping a banner to deliver the demand of Greenpeace and GAP’s customers around the world: we won’t accept toxic fashion, it’s time to Detox.
It has been 971 days since the release of the first Dirty Laundry report into the use of hazardous chemicals in the textile industry and since then GAP has been implicated in toxic water scandals from China to Mexico. More recently, our Polluting Paradise report revealed the brand’s ties to a supplier in Indonesia found to be releasing a cocktail of chemicals into the local water supply, the Citarum River.
Despite these scandals, GAP still refuses to sign a credible comittment to rid its clothes of these toxic monsters.
Leaders and Laggards
Over the last four years, the Detox campaign has shown that the fashion industry can lead the way to a toxic-free future. 19 global brands, from budget giant Primark to luxury labels like Valentino, have already made lasting commitments to Detox. What’s more, most of them are taking action – starting to disclose information on the release of hazardous chemicals in their supply chain, and laying out credible timelines for the elimination of priority substances.
Unfortunately, GAP’s actions (or lack of) to date have shown them up to be a toxic-addicted laggard. Though the company claims to be cleaning up its act, hiding behind the paper commitments of the ineffective Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals industry group, there is still a clear gap between GAP's words and its actions.
Corporations and Legislation
Only with a combination of responsible corporate action from brands like GAP, and strong government legislation to create a level playing field in the industry, can we put a stop to the pollution of our global waterways.
Here in Taiwan, the government recently took an important first step to recognise that we all deserve to live in a future free from hazardous chemicals by passing the landmark Taiwan Toxic Chemical Substances Control Act (TW-TSCA). While there is still more to do, from implementing a registration system to ensuring industry transparency, this piece of legislation represents a critical move for Taiwan on its pathway to a toxic-free future.
We have shown time and time again that change only happens when people stand up and speak out. Brands like Zara, Levi’s and Burberry listened to their customers and are now acting on our demands.
Isn't it time GAP also recognised the urgency of this situation, taking meaningful action to clean up its supply chain on behalf of its new customers here in Taiwan and those all over the world?
Send GAP your own message and tell the brand to become the fashion-forward company its customers expect it it to be.
Rose Lai is a Detox Campaigner with Greenpeace East Asia and Ashov Birry is a Detox Campaigner with Greenpeace South East Asia.