Looking back over the past two years it is incredible to see what we have achieved together.
As fashion lovers, shoppers, activists, bloggers, designers and models we united behind a common cause: fashion without pollution. Armed with the toxic truth, we convinced some of the worlds most well-known fashion companies to commit to clean up their supply chains and step down the catwalk to a toxic-free future.
That’s great, one would think, but isn’t it time we found out if these brands are walking the talk and taking real action to clean up their toxic addictions?
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Today, Greenpeace International released the Detox Catwalk, an online platform charting the progress made by 24 companies down the runway to Detox.
The Catwalk reveals that sportswear giants Nike, adidas and Li Ning – some of the first companies to champion a toxic-free future two years ago – have so far failed to clean up their act. While others in the sector are busy sparking a transparency revolution, these three continue to hide behind collective inaction and industry working groups – committed only to doing the bare minimum to meet their public promises. Isn’t it a bit ironic that the same companies who tell us “Impossible is nothing” and to go “all in” are the ones holding the industry back on the path to a toxic-free future? As someone who cares about the clothes I wear and the story they tell, I am deeply disappointed.
I would expect so much more from these sports giants, known for their quality products, famous slogans and ‘green’ promises. I am sure I am not the only one – after all, it was the power of their customers uniting with a single call for them to Detox their products and production processes that made these companies commit in the first place. They have a responsibility towards us – as customers and fans – and the people living next to the factories they use to follow through on their commitments.
Luckily however, these greenwashers are in the minority.
While their competitors stick their heads in the sand, some of my favourite fashion brands have more than proved their worth; matching their words with fashion-forward action. Companies like Mango, H&M and Fast Retailing – the name behind casual wear giant UNIQLO – are not only setting new trends on the high street, they are also showing the whole fashion industry that when they say they commit to clean up their act, they mean it.
These trendsetters have already started to eliminate the worst chemicals and are also making a pro-active effort to increase transparency in a notoriously murky industry by publicly disclosing the discharge data of their suppliers using the IPE platform.
While these brands are on course to deliver against their Detox commitments, there is still a long way to go before toxic-free fashion becomes the norm, and with less than six and a half years to go until the 2020 deadline, there is no time to waste.
Pressure from global citizens made companies like Nike and adidas stand up and listen, but now we want to see them take real action. It is they proved to their customers that they recognise the urgency of the global water crisis and take real action to eliminate the hazardous chemicals from their supply chain and products, working with their suppliers to create an open and collaborative path to change.
After all, what really counts is not what these companies say they will do, but what these companies actually do.
Greenwashed words and empty commitments are simply not enough.
UPDATE June 2014 - Great news! Thanks to global #PeoplePower, adidas has agreed to stop the greenwash and come clean. Read more...
Whether you are a fashionista obsessed with the latest catwalk trends, a sports fan concerned about the functionality of your sports clothes or a concerned citizen, we urge you to join a growing movement of people demanding that our clothes carry a story we can be proud of.
Find out on the Detox Catwalk if your favourite company is walking the talk or dragging its heels. Let them know directly that we – fashion fans and activists alike – are watching and we will not rest until they meet their words with concrete actions to bring about the toxic-free future we urgently want and need.
Ieva Vilimaviciute is a Detox Campaigner at Greenpeace International. You can follow her on twitter at @iewoole