The Chemicals In My Closet

by Guest Blogger

December 11, 2012

A fashion models pose with their shopping bags, with messages concerning about water pollution created by fashion industry, in one of the discharging wastewater pipe of the dying factory in Samutsakorn province, Thailand. Greenpeace reveals in a report entitled "Toxic Threads" that one of the 20 leading fashion brands, Zara is found to be selling highly hazardous clothing that release cancer-causing chemicals into environment. Greenpeace demands fashion brands to commit to zero discharge of all hazardous chemicals by 2020 - as brands including H&M and M&S have already done - and require their suppliers to disclose all releases of toxic chemicals from their facilities to communities at the site of water pollution.

Big brands are forcing consumers to buy clothes containing chemicals that cause toxic water pollution

I gave up most designer labels after my dad bombarded me with snippets from ‘No Logo’ at breakfast every day for a month. Any temptation I might have felt to shop at Abercrombie was quelled by my sister’s peculiarly effective way of reminding my younger self of the retailer’s dubious child labor practices.

This is more stomach-turning: not only are China’s and Mexicos rivers being polluted, its people exposed to invisible, unavoidable toxins, but these same invisible, unacknowledged poisons are being exported, in the clothing, to contaminate the water – well, wherever Calvin Klein and Levis clothing is sold. You sure get more than you bargained for when you buy those skinny jeans!

Manufactured with little regulation, laced with toxic chemicals that are poisoning the planet, and designed to wear out faster than we can buy them, many of our favorite items of clothing are made for maximum profit and are producing maximum pollution. And worse than that, the brands we love to wear are either turning a blind eye or fueling this broken system.

San Pedro River Pollution caused by the dumping of chemicals used to make our clothes

The garments I own from Victorias Secret, GAP and Levis no longer make me feel good about my appearance because I know theyre leaving behind such an ugly toxic trail in the places where their clothes are manufactured.

Im no scientist but Ive read enough to know that the use of inherently hazardous substances, NPes, phthalates, or dyes that release cancer causing chemicals, are unacceptable.

I don’t want to wear toxins any more than I want to be putting them in the world’s waterways. I know it doesnt have to be this way. I reject the idea that beauty, or in this case fashion, can only be skin deep. I will fight back against clothes that look good but are of poor quality and loaded with chemicals to boot. Fashion does not need to cause toxic pollution.

I won’t be buying clothing manufactured in China or Mexico until I can be sure it isn’t contaminated. If many of us feel this way, then these firms will push for clean, sustainable manufacturing, to the benefit of consumers, local communities and the health of the planet.

International clothing brands need to clean up their act and commit to creating toxic-free fashion.

We Need Your Voice. Join Us!

Want to learn more about tax-deductible giving, donating stock and estate planning?

Visit Greenpeace Fund, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable entity created to increase public awareness and understanding of environmental issues through research, the media and educational programs.