A Little Story about the Monsters in your Closet

by Nadia Haiama

January 13, 2014

A mother and child find "Little Monsters" lurking in their laundry. This photo illustration was created for the Greenpeace report: A Little Story About the Monsters in Your Closet. Combining live action and illustration, the "Little Monsters" illustrations are designed to bring visibility to an invisible problem - the presence of hazardous chemicals in our children's clothes and in our lives.

© Greenpeace

Today we told the world a story, a story about the Little Monsters in childrens clothes and shoes. As the mother of a young daughter this is one story I had to read and one that revealed a shocking truth about the clothes we buy for our kids.

Our latest investigation has revealed the presence of hazardous chemicals in clothing made by 12 very well known brands; from the iconic kids label Disney, to sportswear brands like adidas, and even top-end luxury labels like Burberry.

The shocking truth is that no matter what type of kids clothes we shop for, theres no safe haven all of the tested brands had at least one product containing hazardous toxic monsters.

For parents everywhere, this is a toxic nightmare

Most parents dont realise it but these brands are making us unwitting accomplices in the industrys toxic scandal. These chemicals are not only impacting on local communities when they are released into rivers from the polluting factories in production centers like China and Indonesia they are also escaping from peoples clothes and through their washing machines to also pollute our local waterways.

Once released into the environment, the cocktail of hazardous chemicals found in this study can have seriously adverse effects on wildlife some have even been known to make male fish take on female characteristics! Whats more they can contaminate our bodies via food, air and water and pose health risks to humans, particularly to our immune, reproductive and hormonal systems.

Its bad enough that even though there are safer alternatives out there, many brands continue to use these hazardous chemicals to make adults clothes.But this study showed no significant difference between the level of hazardous chemicals found in childrens clothes and those found in garments made for adults.

Our little ones are especially vulnerable to the presence of certain Little Monsters in our environment. My daughter is now four-years old and Im always amazed how fast she learns and develops day-by-day. Unfortunately, many of the chemicals tested for are known to disrupt our hormone systems, and mess with the normal development of our bodies. We may only see these adverse effects much later in lives of our little ones.

'Little Monsters' in Textile Factory (Photo Illustration)

But all is not lost!

Some of you reading this may already be part of the global movement that made 18 global brands commit to Detox agreeing to phase out all hazardous chemicals by 2020. The movement is proof that people power works. Whats more, progress is already being madewith most of the brands taking steps to eliminate the worst chemicals and make their supply chains more transparent.

However, it shocks me to see other brands like adidas with global reach and vast profit margins refusing to take this issue seriously, failing to follow through on their public commitment with any credible actions. Meanwhile, other big players in the clothing industry, like Disney and American Apparel, still havent taken responsibility for their involvement in this toxic tale that is affecting people across the globe.

Join the Movement

We have already made 18 big brands commit to change their ways and we can do it again.

This is an issue close to my heart and one I believe we can all do something about. On behalf of my daughter, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and put pen to paper, adding my voice millions of others by writing this, my very first blog. The Detox campaign has shown that when we as parents, fashion lovers and activists speak out, big clothing brands do listen.

By making ourselves heard, we can push the industry to commit to change in the name of our own children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and the generations to come.

Take Action

  • Use twitter, Facebook or instagram? Today we are telling the story of these toxic little monsters in the style of a fairytale. Please help share within your networks and give this story a happy ending
  • Want to talk to the brands directly? Tell big brands like adidas, Burberry and Disney to clean up their act by taking action here.


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