‘DETOXING THE FACE OF FASHION’ – A Greenpeace Campaign


Detoxing has already become a global fashion in its own right, with celebrities flaunting their newly toned and pixel perfect bodies to the rest of us and proclaiming, with some medical backing, that to detox is to become healthier and happier.

Detoxing does not, however, solely relate to our bodies, but also to the environment. Greenpeace recently launched, in 2011, a campaign to prevent the big fashion houses from releasing hazardous chemicals from clothes production into the world’s water systems. These ‘toxic hormone disrupting chemicals (…) damage biodiversity and the health and livelihoods of people’ dependent on the water affected.  This pollution is mostly to be found in developing countries and yet this issue affects us here too, as the clothes that we import often carry toxic chemicals that we then wash into our waterways. We do not really think about where our clothes come from, let alone the chemicals that we are potentially releasing into the environment. A Greenpeace study conducted in November 2012 found ‘residues of a variety of dangerous chemicals in clothing made by 20 global fashion brands’, including many of our much loved high street shops.

When the student loans kick in, many of us travel in hordes to these shops to treat ourselves, rigorously disregarding the inevitability of only going to be able to eat baked beans and pasta until the next instalment, (something I have been guilty of more than once).  Yet during this excitement, it never crosses our minds that we will potentially be wearing clothes in which Greenpeace researchers have found cancer causing chemicals and hormone- disrupting substances. However, the November study found that trace levels of these very chemicals could be found in ‘every single brand tested’.

Now it’s not all doom and gloom for us, ladies. We can shop confidently, knowing that with the pressure of thousands around the world some fashion brands have signed the Greenpeace Detox Campaign, including Zara, Mango, M&S, Nike, H&M and more.  Some though have still to bow to the pressure, namely Calvin Klein and Gap. 

But what can we do here in Liverpool?  Advice given by Greenpeace is altogether quite easy to swallow. Their main wish? That we buy second hand clothing when we can, not a difficult task for some of you whose vintage fashion ensures Liverpool’s prevailing 60’s obsession is continued.  Also,   if this isn’t a worthy excuse to borrow housemate’s envied clothing, nothing is!

There is still a way to go, but Greenpeace hope ‘the era of toxic fashion will soon be over’, with the continued support of people everywhere. Feel free to sign their manifesto to encourage more fashion brands to detoxify their clothing and thus, reduce pollution of the world’s waterways at www.greenpeace.org/detox.

Thanks to greenpeace.org.uk and the writers of the Greenpeace ‘Connect’ magazine for allowing the use of their research in this article.