Invisible fashion victims

What are you wearing today? Touch it. Go on. What does it feel like? Yes, you're touching a piece of clothing. You're touching a type of fabric. You're touching a fashion choice. And yet, there's more to it: You're also touching a story. Because every piece of clothing – in your wardrobe, in my wardrobe, in everyone's wardrobe – has a story.

Get the report: Toxic Threads

Right now, fashion brands are writing this story for us. It features public waterways that are being treated like private sewers. It features poisoned rivers. It features hazardous, persistent and hormone-disrupting chemicals that can cause serious damage to ecosystems and livelihoods. I don't know about you, but we here at Greenpeace don't like that whole story. We love our clothes; we really do. We use our clothes to express ourselves and present ourselves to the world. But we are passionately united behind the belief that our fashion shouldn't literally cost the earth.

No – our clothes don't have to be laced with toxic chemicals. They don't have to be manufactured without transparency and cause toxic water pollution. They don't have to be designed to wear out faster than we can buy them.

There is another way – and it's people like you who'll bring it about. Because here's the thing: The brands that make what we wear are listening to us. Why? Because without us they're nothing. That's right: NOTHING. And they know this.

We’re not cogs in their machine.

We have an amazing power over them – individually, but even more so, when we come together. We call it #PeoplePower – and it just keeps growing: We're people who love our clothes – and we're ready to push things forward. That's why this year, Greenpeace's Detox campaign is delving even further into the hazardous chemicals used in the production of our high street fashion.

This week we exposed the links between textile manufacturing facilities using toxic chemicals and water pollution. Our investigation includes 20 global fashion brands, and testing on 141 products sold by the leading fashion brands, such as Zara, Chinese fashion label Metersbonwe, Calvin Klein, Levi's, Mango, Tommy Hilfiger and Vero Moda.

We demand brands eliminate releases of hazardous chemicals into the environment and products. The best way to do this is to replace them with safer alternatives. And to show that they mean it, they must be transparent and disclose what each of their suppliers are releasing into our environment from their facilities.

If the brands that have the real power and influence work with their suppliers to pioneer safe alternatives to hazardous chemicals, and bring them to market quickly, others will follow. If #PeoplePower keeps pushing this hard enough, we can change things globally, and forever. Just consider what we have achieved already: Seven major international brands (Puma, Nike, Adidas, H&M, M&S, C&A and Li-Ning) have committed to change – because you told them to.

But so far brands such as Zara remain silent. If you share our vision for the future, join us in calling on Zara to Detox our fashion!

Tell Zara we don’t want hazardous chemical in our clothing or our waterways. Together, we can take control of the story our clothes tell – and make it a better one for all of us.

Yifang Li is a Detox campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.

Image: Three Greenpeace activists camouflage themselves becoming "invisible" in a Zara shop window in central Hong Kong and unfurl a banner reading "Invisible fashion victim". They are representing the hidden victims of the pollution caused by the fashion brand. © Clement Tang / Greenpeace