Last week Greenpeace International released the results of an investigation, which revealed that Gap Inc. (the company behind global brands including Banana Republic, Old Navy and its namesake Gap) is in business with a polluting supplier in Indonesia. This supplier, PT Gistex Group, owns a facility that was caught releasing a cocktail of hazardous chemicals and pH14 wastewater straight into the local water supply.
Despite being caught "sponsoring" toxic water pollution scandals in China, Mexico and now Indonesia, despite tests revealing the presence of hazardous chemicals in Gap branded clothing items, and despite its main rivals in the clothing industry all committing to Detox, Gap has so far systematically failed to prevent these environmental and human injustices from persisting.
While I have been shocked by the company's inaction to date, I wanted to make sure that the people with the ability to change the situation were armed with all of the information they needed. Yesterday, emails were sent to key members of Gap Inc.'s management team, including the Chief Executive Director, calling on them to use their power and influence to turn Gap into a leader on the issue and work with their suppliers to help #Detox our water.
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Gap, Be Bright -- #Detox our Water
Dear Glenn Murphy
Last week Greenpeace International released an investigation revealing how a facility in Indonesia was releasing a cocktail of hazardous chemicals – including nonylphenol, antimony and tributyl phosphate – and pH14 wastewater directly into a local water system that millions of people depend upon for their drinking water and livelihoods.
This facility is owned by PT Gistex Group, a supplier that Gap Inc. has a business relationship with – a fact that has been acknowledged by your team.
This is not the first time that Gap Inc. has been found to be conducting business with a polluting supplier. In China and Mexico investigations also revealed links between Gap and suppliers releasing toxic chemicals into the local waterways.
And the problem gets worse.
Investigations into Gap branded clothing also revealed that 78% of the items tested contained traces of nonylphenol ethoxylate – a hazardous chemical that breaks down to form an even more toxic and hormone-disrupting substance when released into rivers, lakes and seas.
The presence of this chemical in Gap clothing items indicates that hazardous substances were both used and released in the manufacture of these garments, meaning that the pollution found in China, Mexico and Indonesia are not isolated cases. It also means that your own customers have been forced to become unwitting accomplices in the toxic water cycle, helping to spread these hormone-disrupting substances when they wash their clothes.
Toxic water pollution is impacting millions of people around the world.
Some of these people have decided that enough is enough, and are making their voices heard in traditional media, online, at the source of the pollution, and outside your stores.
These people are not just activists and members of affected communities, but also people from within the fashion world, and your very own fans and consumers.
These are people united by two common beliefs; that beautiful fashion shouldn't cost the earth, and that we all have a Right-to-Know what chemicals are in the garments we buy and in the water that we all share.
After all, the clothes we wear should have a story we can be proud of.
Having seen your major competitors including Zara, Uniqlo, Levi's and Mango all commit to Detox, people are beginning to publicly question how many more toxic scandals Gap needs to be connected with before it cleans up its act.
Your actions today have the power to echo down through our collective history.
I urge you to resolve this issue by publicly committing to work together with your suppliers in Indonesia, and around the world, to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from your production processes and products, in order to help shape a toxic-free future.
Please, Be Bright, become part of the solution and commit to Detox.
Toxic-Free Water campaigner,
Greenpeace Southeast Asia