Social, Sustainable Activism Takes the Field at the World Cup


As the World Cup continues in Brazil, Greenpeace has scored a major goal. 

Long-time FIFA sponsor adidas, which expects to generate $12.25 million in revenue from this year’s tournament, announced a partnership with bluesign technologies to better manage chemicals in its supply chain as well as committing to disclosing 99 percent of its China-based “wet processes” by the end of 2014.

Additionally, the brand has committed to 80 percent supply chain transparency by mid-2016, and full transparency by 2020 via its “IPE Detox platform.”

“This announcement represents a major step towards the toxic-free future we need,” said Manfred Santen, Detox Campaigner at Greenpeace Germany, according to Fibre2Fashion. “This credible approach with achievable milestones shows adidas is back onside with Detox. This is a victory for adidas’ customers, for the local communities forced to live with toxic-water pollution and for our future generations. Global brands like adidas have the power and the responsibility to help us kick out these dangerous chemicals for good.”

Greenpeace pushed adidas on its “breach of promise” to provide non-toxic soccer apparel for the World Cup after testing found hazardous chemicals in 33 items including boots, goalkeeping gloves and balls from the brand, as well as those from Nike and Puma.[more]

Hundreds of activists protested in more than 30 cities worldwide and thousands sent letters to CEO Herbert Hainer in the name of Greenpeace’s Detox Challenge campaign that launched in 2011. Supporters also used Vine to record videos of their #DetoxWave which were shared with Hainer.  

“We have once more seen the strength of people power—adidas has listened to the global call for action and accepted responsibility for its environmental footprint. With this news adidas has regained its position as a Detox frontrunner in the sports industry,” added Santen.

Brazil is also stealing the spotlight for its own sustainable practices. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Brazil is ranked as a global example in combating deforestation and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

However, while the deforestation rate in the Amazon is significantly lower than before, “the amount of annual forest loss is still too much and the forest and everything achieved to date is still under threat,” Greenpeace notes. “To use a requisite soccer metaphor: Brazil has scored many goals for the forest, but it is still half time, we are still behind, and some players of our players have received yellow cards.”

The International Labor Organization is also using the World Cup’s spotlight to drive awareness around its “Red Card to Child Labor” campaign, which will run through the 2016 Olympics. The campaign aims to drive prevention efforts for child labor, which the organization estimates affects over 168 million children worldwide. 

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