As fashion-lovers around the world ponder over which clothes to add to their Christmas wish-lists, news about a different list linked to the fashion industry has got the Detox team here at Greenpeace buzzing. I’m talking about H&M’s Restricted Substance List, a detailed version of which appeared for the first time on the company’s website this month.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “a list of chemicals, what’s so special about that”?
Well, the publication of this list is actually pretty remarkable – because you, our supporters, made it happen!
It’s thanks to you that H&M has listed in a publicly accessible way all of the chemicals it has banned or placed restrictions on due to their hazardous properties, as one of the short-term actions it pledged to make in its Detox commitment, published just last month.
This landmark commitment was a result of global pressure from concerned Greenpeace supporters, consumers and fans around the world, whose combined actions persuaded the fast-fashion retailer to take up the Detox challenge and commit to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from its supply chains and products.
H&M’s Restricted Substance List is just one example of the efforts that the brands taking part in the Detox challenge (Nike, Adidas, Puma and H&M) are making, to live up to their promise to become more open and transparent about the chemicals they are using and discharging into our rivers and waterways. It’s also an important first step in providing local communities, journalists and officials with the information they need to ensure that the local water supplies are not turned into public sewers for industry.
The publication of this list is just the beginning. As part of their Detox commitment, H&M has also promised to disclose the quantities of certain hazardous chemicals being discharged - facility by facility - in an online, searchable format by the end of 2012. This detailed disclosure – something revolutionary in the sector, particularly in countries such as China – will be vital in exposing the toxic truth about the clothes we wear, and the truth that local communities, policy makers and the brands’ consumers have a right to know about.
For the brands, coming clean will help them to earn and grow the trust of their consumers, providing a transparent way to demonstrate that they are living up to their promises, making real changes on the ground and taking a true leadership position on the issue of toxic water pollution.
Interest in the Detox campaign is spreading rapidly across the fashion sector. Just last week, I was invited to speak at the “Beyond Fashion” summit in Berlin, and in the coming months members of the team will also be speaking at other industry events and to fashion schools. These students will help shape how the fashion sector innovates and reinvents itself to create a toxic-free future in the years to come, and their hunger for sustainable fashion is both insatiable and infectious.
Right now, the committed clothing brands are working with Greenpeace campaigners to develop their joint Detox Action Plan, which will outline how they will use their power and influence and work with their suppliers to completely eliminate the use of all hazardous substances from their clothing manufacturing processes and products.
So while the publication of the Restricted Substance List by H&M is just the first step, it’s the beginning of something much bigger that is resonating throughout in the fashion world.
Something that you – our supporters – are helping to make happen.
To read more about the campaign and the background research linking the fashion sector to toxic water pollution, visit our Detox homepage.