Now you don't have to worry about mannequins watching you — they may also be following you onto the sidewalk. As part of Greenpeace's global "Detox" campaign, more than 700 people, in over 80 cities, in 20 countries around the world protested, staged street theater and conducted "mannequin" walk-outs to demand Zara to eliminate the use of all hazardous chemicals throughout its supply chain.
From Bangkok to Buenos Aires, the activists also called on Zara store managers (who don't permit photos of their mannequins) to forward Greenpeace's Detox demands to their headquarters, after new research found traces of hazardous chemicals in ZARA clothing items, some of which can break down in the environment to become hormone-disrupting or even cancer-causing substances. As Greenpeace put it, "how will the world's largest fashion retailer — which responds so swiftly to changes in fashion trends — react to this global call for toxic-free fashion?"
According to Greenpeace's "Toxic Threads" The Big Fashion Stitch Up" report that sparked the Zara protests,
A total of 141 items of clothing were purchased in April 2012 in 29 countries and regions worldwide from authorised retailers. The chemicals found included high levels of toxic phthalates in four of the garments, and cancer-causing amines from the use of certain azo dyes in two garments. NPEs were found in 89 garments (just under two thirds of those tested), showing little difference from the results of the previous investigation into the presence of these substances in sports clothing that was conducted in 2011.
In addition, the presence of many other different types of potentially hazardous industrial chemicals was discovered across a number of the products tested. As inherently hazardous substances, any use of NPEs, phthalates, or azo dyes that can release cancer-causing amines, is unacceptable. As global players, fashion brands have the opportunity to work on global solutions to eliminate the use of hazardous substances throughout their product lines, and to drive a change in practices throughout their supply chains.
It's not just Zara that's being targeted in the Greenpeace report — Armani, Levi's and Victoria's Secret are also singled out. VS angel Miranda Kerr is reportedly particularly concerned about the claims of phthalates in Victoria's Secret lingerie being "so high that if that product was a toy it would not be permitted in the EU." The Australian model is a green-living advocate who runs Kora Organics when she's not modeling.
Greenpeace also staged a fashion show in Beijing on November 20 to highlight the Toxic Threads study, putting catwalk models in oxygen masks to lobby major global fashion labels to stop using toxic chemicals in the production of their clothing, which occurs mainly in China, that leads to environmental degradation.
Zara owner Inditex commented about the Greenpeace claims "that stringent quality controls cover 100% of its products with the most demanding and highest accuracy levels. In addition, it said its standards - Clear to Wear/Safe to Wear - follow the most demanding regulations worldwide and they are mandatory for all its suppliers."
Martin Hojsik of the Greenpeace Detox campaign responded: “What we would like to see from Zara is a guarantee that no toxic discharges have taken place during the manufacture of the products that Greenpeace have tested. Also we demand Zara investigates why their procedures failed to pick up the problems that Greenpeace identified.
“Other companies, such as H&M, have been taking real action on the issue, so what’s holding Zara back? The H&M and M&S Detox commitments, for example, have solid chemical management protocols and are built upon transparency, and this will enable them to achieve the 2020 elimination goal.”