Uniqlo, the biggest global fashion brand based in Asia, and its parent company, Fast Retailing Group, recently committed to eliminate all releases of hazardous chemicals throughout its entire global supply chain and products by 2020, in response to Greenpeace’s global Detox campaign.
That successfully brings Greenpeace’s Detox roster to 12 global brands, including Nike, Adidas, Puma, H&M, M&S, C&A, Li-Ning, Zara, Mango, Espirit, Levi’s and now Uniqlo.
Greenpeace says they're bringing the urgent issue of toxic-water pollution to the attention of fashion brands, companies which often believe they have no responsibility at all stages of their supply chain.
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“We expose the problem through investigations and we explain and offer these brands a solution on how they should take up their individual responsibility to address the problems that are caused by the manufacturing of clothes,” Marietta Harjono, Toxics Campaigner at Greenpeace International, tells TakePart.
While Greenpeace first brings the problem of pollution to the attention of brands and persuades them to do the right thing, the companies must then make a commitment to the public, not just to Greenpeace. And that's where consumers can play a huge role.
Just American consumers alone buy 20.5 billion garments a year; that’s 68 garments and 7 pairs of shoes per person and more than one piece of clothing purchased per week. According to the EPA, those same Americans throw away 68 pounds of textiles per person per year. With so much disregard for clothing, how do consumers become aware of fashion pollution?
When it comes to implementing their Detox commitments, Greenpeace says they work with more NGOs and the wider society.
“What we are looking for is the elimination of all hazardous chemicals throughout their supply chain by 2020. The companies must also commit to require their suppliers to disclose discharge data. And by doing so, they are making themselves responsible to the public. This is the control mechanism; this is how anyone—journalists, customers, local authorities—can track if a fashion brand is meeting their commitment,” says Harjono.
They still have work to do.
While Greenpeace will continue to expose the problem of toxic water pollution and investigate those responsible, they're looking at all brands that have not yet made a credible and ambitious detox commitment. The enivronmental group expects all clothing companies to become part of the solution.
“There are still brands like Calvin Klein, Gap and G- Star that are not taking the issue seriously enough and not looking at their individual responsibility to address the problem. This campaign has shown that customers, fashionistas, fashion designers and bloggers are all adding their voices—it’s now up to the industry join us and be Detox leaders,” adds Harjono.
Will Uniqlo's pledge make you more enthusiastic about shopping there? Let us know in the Comments.
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Amy DuFault is a writer and editor whose work has been published in EcoSalon, Huffington Post, Ecouterre, Organic Spa, Coastal Living, Yahoo!, The Frisky and other online and print publications. In addition to being a former co-owner of an eco-boutique, she coaches and connects the sustainable fashion community to feed her soul. She also dreams of singing in an all girl punk band even though she has stage fright. @amytropolis | TakePart.com