It’s the kind of deal you don’t want to score while out shopping for your kids – a cute, new shirt that comes with a host of invisible “little monsters” clinging to it. Greenpeace coined this phrase to describe the residual toxic chemicals that poison our children’s new clothing, left over from the manufacturing process. The same chemical levels exist in adult clothing, too, but children are far more vulnerable to their adverse effects on human reproduction, hormonal and immune systems. When these clothes are washed, the chemical run-off also contaminates the water supply.
Greenpeace tested 12 major clothing brands (a total of 82 children’s textile products), including companies such as American Apparel, Disney, Adidas, Burberry, Primark, GAP, Puma, C&A and Nike. Every brand contained toxic chemicals – perfluorated chemicals (PFCs), phthalates, nonylphenol, nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE), and cadmium. According to Greenpeace’s press release:
“One Adidas swimsuit contained higher levels of PFOAs [a type of PFC] than permitted on their own Restricted Substance List, while printed fabric on a Primark children’s t-shirt contained 11% phthalates. Meanwhile, NPEs were detected in at least 1 article from every brand with high levels in products made by brands including Disney, American Apparel, and Burberry.”
Greenpeace has launched a campaign called Detox, calling on the fashion industry and textile producers to stop using hazardous chemicals. The Detox campaign, which has been going on for two years, has successfully convinced major brands such as Zara, H&M, Valentino, Mango, Victoria’s Secret, and Levis to clean up their acts. In the past two weeks, both Burberry and Primark have bowed to public pressure and signed a Detox commitment. This means they will adhere to zero discharge of all hazardous chemicals by 2020 and require textile suppliers to disclose releases of toxic chemicals from their facilities to the public and communities who live near the site of water pollution.
How can you help join the fight for toxic-free fashion? Keep reading for 5 ideas