Dirty little secret

Image © Greenpeace / Alex Yallop

Behind the beautiful advertising, the catwalk glamour and the perfectly manicured nails lies a world that those inside the industry do not want you to see, and definitely don't want you to talk about. Dark, dirty, and full of invisible threats, this is a world founded on a toxic addiction that is slowly destroying our waterways.

But like all secrets, there is always the possibility that the ones covering up will one day have their secret exposed, and that the revealing of the truth will force them to confront their problem. And today, World Water Day, is that day, when with your help, we reveal their secret to the world. A truth many knew but did not want to acknowledge.

Global fashion brands are poisoning our rivers

The textile industry is the third largest source of industrial wastewater in China where as much as 70 percent of rivers, lakes and reservoirs are polluted. But as our latest research reveals, this pollution is not limited to the countries where heavy industry is located, but is happening in any country where the clothing is sold and washed. The list of brands implicated includes fashion heavyweights Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and G-Star, whose products contain chemicals that break down in water to form toxic and hormone-disrupting substances.

World Water Day

To mark World Water Day, Greenpeace activists and volunteers revealed the fashion industry's dirty little secret in locations all around the world: from Jakarta to Stockholm, from Madrid to Bangkok. Members of the public were invited to get involved by washing away non-toxic paint from the posters placed in city and riverside locations, exposing the fashion industry's toxic secret to shoppers and passers-by.

Additional activities are also taking place in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand and Indonesia calling on politicians to tighten legislation around the use of hazardous chemicals and increase transparency for the chemicals that the fashion industry and other sectors are currently releasing.

The pressure on the fashion industry to quit its toxic addiction is building.

Water reflection

Image © Jonas Gratzer / Greenpeace

The road to a toxic-free future:

Thanks to your help, six major international sportswear and fast fashion brands have so far committed to Detox, and eliminate all hazardous chemicals from their supply chains and products by 2020. Given the sheer scale of the problem, more brands must join them.

For those brands who have committed, time is also ticking. Every day that they deliberate, monitor and measure – and delay acting – our waterways continue to be poisoned by persistent, toxic and hormone disrupting chemicals. Many of the most hazardous chemicals have alternatives and the brands must set ambitious deadlines for their total elimination, and then deliver against them.

The time for talking is over.

Take action today:
• Share this story with your friends and family to help raise awareness of the fashion industry's dirty little secret
• Share the latest campaign video which shows the role of #PeoplePower in shaking up the fashion sector
Submit your photo to star in the next #PeoplePowered campaign video while pushing your favorite brand to be the next to Detox

Tommy Crawford is the Strategic Communications Manager on the Detox Campaign. You can follow him on twitter at: @theecowarrior