The Earth Run is on its third year and Greenpeace has been its NGO beneficiary from the start. I joined the past runs simply because I enjoy running, not to compete, but to keep myself physically fit and to be with friends. It's my 'detox' from an exhausting, stressful week.
This year, I joined the race again. This time, I have a more specific cause – to get Adidas to 'Detox'.
Greenpeace recently launched its 'Detox' campaign via a series of reports. Hidden Consequences presents case studies of industrial pollution in certain parts of the world and the cost of cleaning up polluted sites. Part 1 of the Dirty Laundry report linked pollution from discharge pipes in China to well-known clothing brands. Part 2 of the Dirty Laundry: Hung out to dry provided proof that, indeed, chemicals such as nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) are being used in the manufacture of these famous brands.
Nonylphenol ethoxylates break down to form nonylphenols which is extremely toxic and has endocrine disrupting properties.
The 14 Brands that tested positive for NPE include: Abercrombie and Fitch, Adidas, Calvin Klein, Converse, G-Star RAW, H&M, Kappa, Lacoste, Li Ning, Nike, Puma, Ralph Lauren, Uniqlo, and Youngor.
Sports apparel brands are heavy in the promotion of physical fitness, healthy lifestyles and general well-being. Go to any big sports event in any part of the world; most likely, it is sponsored by one of the above brands. Because their products are endorsed by particular athletes, those of us who tend to look up to them, also emulate the way they act and look, even copy their manner of dressing. It all looks great on the surface.
However, behind these wonderful-looking sports apparel and the healthy lifestyle brands promote, is a dirty little secret. Some community somewhere in a remote place in the world or even closer to home, is suffering from pollution, its waters contaminated by extremely toxic chemicals used in the production of these clothes.
With Puma and Nike (and maybe finally, the last of the top 3, Adidas) responding positively to Greenpeace's challenge and committing to eliminate all toxic chemicals in their products and their respective supply chains, I am hopeful that this becomes a trend and that these sports giants deliver on their commitments. In a few years, we will have clothes that are free from toxic chemicals. But Adidas has yet to issue commitments as clear as Puma and Nike in this Detox challenge.
This is why I ran today. I ran in my Adidas gear and got a few other friends to do the same. It is my promise to continue running until the industry is able to Detox its apparel.