Toxic Threads: The Big Fashion Stitch-Up
How big brands are making consumers unwitting accomplices in the toxic water cycle
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executive Summary Section 1: introduction Section 2: Methodology and results Section 3: Fast fashion: more fashion, more toxics Section 4: conclusions and recommendations Appendix 1 Appendix 2 Appendix 3 Endnotes 31 39 42 46 48 52 3 9 13 acknowledgements: We would like to thank the following people who contributed to the creation of this report. If we have forgotten anyone, they know that our gratitude is also extended to them. Kevin Brigden, Kristin Casper, Madeleine Cobbing, Tommy Crawford, Alexandra Dawe, Steve Erwood, Marietta Harjono, Martin Hojsik, Yifang Li, Tristan Tremschnig, Ieva Vilimaviciute, Yuntao Wang, Matthias Wüthrich Creative Direction by: Tommy Crawford Design, Art Direction and Crime Scene concept by: Toby Cotton @ Arc Communications Front and back cover images © Lance Lee/Greenpeace Toxic Threads: The Big Fashion Stitch-Up JN 429a Published October 2012 by Greenpeace international Ottho Heldringstraat 5, 1066 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands greenpeace.org
Terminology used in this report
Bioaccumulation: The mechanism by which chemicals accumulate in living organisms and get passed along the food chain. hormone disruptors: Chemicals known to interfere with hormone systems of organisms. For nonylphenol, the most widely recognised hazard is the ability to mimic natural oestrogen hormones. This can lead to altered sexual development in some organisms, most notably the feminisation of fish*. Persistence: The property of a chemical whereby it does not degrade in the environment, or degrades very slowly. Plastisol: A suspension of plastic particles, commonly PVC or EVA, in a plasticiser. Used as ink for screen-printing images and logos onto textiles. Surfactants: Chemicals used to lower the surface tension of liquids. They include wetting agents, detergents, emulsifiers, foaming agents and dispersants used in a variety of industrial and consumer applications including textile manufacture.
*Jobling S, Reynolds T, White R, Parker MG & Sumpter JP (1995). A variety of environmentally persistent chemicals, including some phthalate plasticisers, are weakly estrogenic. Environmental Health Perspectives 103(6): 582-587; Jobling S, Sheahan D, Osborne JA, Matthiessen P & Sumpter JP (1996). Inhibition of testicular growth in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) exposed to estrogenic alkylphenolic chemicals. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 15(2): 194-202
Note to the reader
Global North and Global South Throughout this report we refer to the terms “Global North” and “Global South” to describe two distinct groups of countries. The term “Global South” is used to describe developing and emerging countries, including those facing the challenges of often-rapid industrial development or industrial restructuring, such as Russia. Most of the Global South is located in South and Central America, Asia and Africa. The term “Global North” is used for developed countries, predominantly located in North America and Europe, with high human development, according to the UN Human Development Index.* Most, but not all, of these countries are located in the northern hemisphere. * United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). (2005). Human Development Report 2005. International cooperation at a crossroads. Aid, trade and security in an unequal world. Available at: http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR05_complete.pdf
2 Greenpeace international Toxic Threads: The Big Fashion Stitch-Up
image © Lance Lee / Greenpeace
• NPEs were found in a total of 89 articles (63% of all items tested). The levels ranged from just above 1 ppm6 up to 45,000 ppm.7 • All of the brands included in this study had one or more product that contained detectable levels of NPEs. They were also detected in one or more product from 13 of the...
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