Good News For You: Mega-Retailer Zara Commits to “Eliminating” Toxic Chemicals In Clothing

Perrie Samotin

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This is what’s called a major coup for environmental organization Greenpeace, and for us: After doing battle on the fashion world following a study that found a great deal of the clothing we buy contains hazardous chemicals, it seems Zara—one of the worst offenders—has folded under the pressure, and has pledged to eliminate the release of toxic matter throughout its supply chain and products by 2020.

A little backstory for you: Just over a week ago, Greenpeace’s strategic communications manager Tommy Crawford published a a must-read Op-Ed piece on Business of Fashion, which asserted that—in our quest to constantly keep up with fashion’s accelerated turnover—consumers are falling victim to purchasing clothing that contain toxic chemicals, with Zara’s wares clocking in as one of the worst offenders. A disturbing thought, as the high-street brand is the world’s largest retailer —a position that, you’d think, would come with certain level of responsibility and accountability.

Following the report, Greenpeace organized a “Detox Zara” campaign, in which more than 700 riled-up volunteers in more than 80 cities in 20 countries dressed up like mannequins and staged “walkouts” of Zara stores as a protest against the company, reported Brand Channel.

Clearly, the campaign was a success:  According to a release put out yesterday by Greenpeace, Zara has committed to “eliminating all releases of hazardous chemicals throughout its entire supply chain and products by 2020.”  In order to achieve this goal, a new mechanism for publicly reporting on the use of certain chemicals will be put into place, with [Zara parent company] Inditex requiring 20 suppliers to start disclosing pollution data from March, with 80 more suppliers required to report on their chemical use by the end of 2013.

Why this matters: Even if you’re not a Zara shopper this is still pretty big news, as the issue doesn’t just affect the wearer of the clothes. According to Crawford, when these chemicals—including toxic phthalates and hazardous amines—are released into the environment, they can break down and develop hormone-disrupting and carcinogenic properties. He also pointed out that chemicals contained within clothes can be released by people living thousands of miles away, who pollute local water supplies when doing laundry.

We can only hope more affordable retailers will start to feel the heat and aim to eliminate toxic matter in their clothing, but until then there are plenty of things you can do to avoid buying garments that could be hazardous. Read how, here! 

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