Yes, your eyes do deceive you. Greenpeace activists conspired with Planet Streetpainting artists to create a mind-bending optical illusion at the World Fashion Centre in Amsterdam on Tuesday. The occasion? The release of the environmental nonprofit’s third “Detox” campaign report—fittingly dubbed Dirty Laundry: Reloaded—which uncovers evidence that consumers of brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Calvin Klein, and G-Star are unwittingly polluting the world’s public waterways with every load of laundry.
Greenpeace researchers measured, for the first time, the percentage of hazardous chemicals that washed out from 14 clothing items during typical domestic laundering. Particularly of interest were nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), a class of chemicals known as alkylphenols (APEs) that break down to form hormone-disrupting nonylphenols.
All 14 samples showed lower concentrations of NPEs after they were washed during typical domestic laundering.
All 14 samples showed markedly lower concentrations of NPEs after they were washed. The biggest offenders were H&M and Ralph Lauren, which tied at 94 percent for NPEs washed out, followed by Adidas (90 percent), Abercrombie & Fitch and Nike (tied at 88 percent), Calvin Klein (84 percent), and Converse (57 percent).
“This study suggests that all residues of NPEs within textile products will be washed out over their lifetime and that in many cases this will have occurred after just the first few washes,” the report reads. “These NPEs are then discharged to wastewater treatment plants, which do not effectively treat or prevent the release of these hazardous substances into the environment.”