By Arwa Lodhi
Greenpeace’s Detox campaign has already made an impact with almost 20 of fashion’s biggest names, including Stella McCartney for Adidas, Zara, and one of our favourite labels, Valentino. But one iconic British brand was left behind: Burberry.
However, after Greenpeace tested nine children’s clothing items produced by Burberry and found that all but one contained hazardous chemicals including nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE), which can break down in the environment to form hormone-disrupting chemicals, Burberry has promised to eliminate toxic chemicals from its clothing by 2020.
This is an important move: once released into the environment, many of the chemicals found in Burberry’s clothing can have devastating effects on human reproductive, hormonal or immune systems. The chemicals are released not only in the production process, but long after: every time we wash our clothing, small particles of such toxins pollute our rivers and oceans and enter our water tables, food systems and homes via the products themselves.
The most toxic textile in the Burberry collection tested by Greenpeace was seen not only in the children’s line, modelled by Romeo Beckham in his first-ever advertising campaign, but also in the shiny candy-wrapper coats for adults. The brand also frequently uses PVC and other hazardous plastic materials in its lines, as well as toxic leather tanning and fabric dyeing chemicals.
While we admire Burberry for eliminating harmful chemicals from their children’s line this year, adults deserve to have toxic-free clothing too. Certainly big changes in the supply chain will not be easy, but we urge Burberry to commit to Greenpeace’s Fashion Detox campaign with immediate effect–2020 is a long way away. If the changes can be implemented for children right away, why not for adults, as well?