Gallery: Greenpeace Exposes Toxic Chemicals in Zara, Other Fast-Fashion Br...

Zara, Greenpeace, toxic chemicals, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, fast fashion, disposable fashion

How toxic are your threads? If you’re a fan of cheap, disposable fashion, the answer isn’t one you’re going to like. A new investigation commissioned by Greenpeace found residues of hormone-disrupting and cancer-causing chemicals in clothing made by 20 leading high-street brands, including Armani, Benetton, Calvin Klein, Diesel, Esprit, Gap, Levi Strauss, Victoria’s Secret, and Zara. As the world’s largest apparel retailer, Zara was among the worst offenders. “Zara alone churns out 850 million clothing items a year,” says Li Yifang, a toxics campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia. “You can imagine the size of the toxic footprint it has left on this planet, particularly in developing countries like China where many of its products are made.”

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5 Responses to “Greenpeace Exposes Toxic Chemicals in Zara, Other Fast-Fashion Brands”

  1. Artisanaworks says:

    Thank you for your continued efforts to educate the consumer concerning the ongoing disregard for health and environment by the apparel industry & manufacturers. Sadly, even small, uninformed cottage industries, may also be producing goods infiltrated with harmful elements.

    I have embraced the immergence of natural dyes used in the apparel and home furnishings arena…but with any fabric dyeing process, much water is consumed to properly remove all excess dye. However, water of questionable quality is often used in the dying process in many countries, and may contain toxins to begin with. This extinguishes any good that natural dyes bring to the table. This should be a concern.

    I am convinced that the consumer, if educated and conscientious about issues good health and the future of our planet, holds great lobbying power. Too often, wrongs are not righted until it is felt in the pocketbook.

  2. ecoalet says:

    The article makes no mention as to how much of these substances was found.
    We should all remember that “The dose makes the poison”.
    Trace amounts of many substances can be found almost anywhere.
    Anyhow the article is very interesting, for example taking into acount the gigantic amount of garments produced (and discarded) yearly in a world-scale.

  3. Jasmin Malik Chua says:

    @ecoalet: You can find specific numbers in Greenpeace’s report, which is far more comprehensive than anything we’d be able to write.

  4. jozomi says:


    I work in the textile industry for a while. I have been selling fabric for years and therefore I’m specialized in dyeing stuff. Since I have moved to China, I had countless meetings with the big players in the garment industry, trying to explain to them that the fabric they were using for their production was not up to standard and that one day or another this could have terrible consequences. The answer was always the same: “we moved to Asia to have competitive costs and this is our target, if Chinese supplier can give us the fabric at this price, we don’t care”. You have to understand that most of the time these big companies are not training their purchaser and/or their merchandisers the right way. These guys are doing a 9 to 5 job and are not aware of the consequences of such issue. Plus their head office are putting tremendous pressure on them to keep the cost lower and lower every year no matter what. On top of that, you can add the lack of professionalism of the people working for this companies. I mean by that, that often the bribes, the close relation doesn’t help to have the correct product. I would say, also, that the main reasons is the greed of the big companies. They are asking prices, that every professional, in his right mind would tell you that are impossible to match if you want to keep the quality. So, yes, these big companies know what they are doing and I’m truly thanksful that this matter came up to the surface. I have, many times, and I still do, informed my close friends and relatives to avoid such brands as Zara (and all Inditex group), H&M (being the worst), C&A, and all American brands (Gap, TMW, Target, Wallmart, Levis, CK, Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis….).

    Only few brands are not cheating on the quality and most of them are from Germany due to the oekotex 100 standard which they require for each batch of dyed fabric.

    It all started when they came to Asia to have lower costs. Only the Germans and few other companies decided to only take advantage of the labor cost but they required the same quality of fabric as they had in Europe. The others, the greed pushed them to take advantage of the labor cost and cheap fabric that is not up to standard. In Europe the problem doesn’t exist as dyeing house are playing fair and the control is systematic. In China, they still dye with sulfur dyes when in Europe the basics are reactive / disperse.

    If you want to see the truth from your very own eyes, go in any Zara shop, buy a garment in black color, and test the linings. There are plenty of independent lab (STR, ITS, SGS…) who can test it for you. Body lining, pocketing lining are always the worst when it comes to quality. And so far we are only talking about chemical issues, but you have to know that they are also a lot of physical issues (not harmful but you are being deceived on the quality of what your buying). I think everybody realized that garment were lasting longer, much longer before.

    I also would like to add that the garment business is complex. For instance, let’s take the Tommy Hilfiger brand. Some of their suits are made to be sold in Europe and these garment are top notch. It seems the merchandiser team is doing a great job with ethics. But the same brand, belonging to the same company produces garments to be sold in the US and produced in Asia, are simply just a piece of garbage. Easy to see, if u can compare, it will just blow your mind away. So even within the same company you have issues to control quality….

    Thx for the opportunity

  5. courtcal87 says:

    It’s sad companies have to “make a commitment” later on, after the fact. Shouldn’t that be policy? Why would anyone knowingly allow these things anywhere near clothes we wear, food we consume, etc., if they could help from it?

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