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Greenpeace ‘Pauses’ Detox Fashion Campaign, But It’s a Good Thing

Eight years after Greenpeace challenged the fashion industry to clean up its act, the environmental group is putting its Detox My Fashion campaign on “pause.”

The news, first reported by Ecotextile News last week, follows Greenpeace’s May reveal of a new Global Textile Procurement Standard for sourcing products made for merchandising and gifting—including T-shirts and bags—by the group.

While its 2012 suspension on the merchandising and gifting of textiles remains broadly in place, Greenpeace offices will begin using approved suppliers on a trial basis.

The organization had previously nixed sales of all textile products until brands and suppliers were able to prove, through transparent reporting, that their clothes were not produced using or releasing hazardous chemicals.

“As an organization we want to supply our supporters with T-shirts that change the world,” Greenpeace said at the time. “But we will only be able to sell textiles again when the industry can produce toxic-free fashion.”

That day, it affirmed, was “a long way off.”

In the intervening years, however, a sea change has taken place in the clothing industry.

Bunny McDiarmid, executive director of Greenpeace International, noted during the 2018 launch of “Destination Zero,” an update about the 80 fashion companies that had committed to eliminating toxic chemicals from their supply chains by 2020, that “we have made great progress in phasing out hazardous chemicals that pollute our waterways and environment.”

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“There has been a major paradigm shift in the clothing industry triggered by the Detox campaign, which now takes responsibility for their production instead of just their products,” she added.

The reported revealed that all Detox-committed brands, for instance, are working to eliminate 11 priority groups of hazardous chemicals identified by Greenpeace and regularly reporting on their presence in wastewater from supplier mills. At the same time, 72 percent are making strides toward disclosing their suppliers down to Tier 2 and Tier 3 wet processing, 72 percent have achieved the complete elimination of per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (a.k.a. PFCs) from their products and 28 percent are making “good progress” toward getting rid of them entirely.

Such is the current “detox” trajectory that Greenpeace is able to assume more of a “watchdog” role, Maddy Cobbing, a project manager with the group’s textiles procurement working group, told Sourcing Journal.

“Significant progress and the contribution of different actors in the sector means that it is now possible to be less involved and to hand over to leading companies and several industry stakeholders, not only to secure the 2020 goal but also to promote it to the entire textile sector,” Cobbing said, listing among current actors companies such as Bluesign, Oeko-Tex and ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals), as well as “NGO allies” such as Changing Markets, ChemSec, Clean Production Action, Fashion Revolution and China’s Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs.

Greenpeace will keep its eyes trained on developments, however, and “future output could also come from individual Greenpeace offices involved in the campaign,” she added.