Greenpeace's Dextox Campaign

I attended a lecture on Friday by Liz Parker, a sustainability expert who campaigns for the right of garment workers, and hasworked for the likes of Bristol-based Label Behind the Label. The talk was engaging and, although I was aware of many of the issues from my own interest and research into sustainable fashion, it was great to be able to talk about this subject with an expert, learn some key statistics, and share knowledge with my peers. 

One campaign I was not aware of until Liz's lecture was Greenpeace's Detox campaign, which sets out to pressure companies to reduce and eventually eliminate the toxic chemicals that their factories. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, with the World Bank estimating that 17 to 20 percent of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and finishing treatments (I can't find the original citation for this statistic but it has been quoted in many articles and videos!).

It is no surprise then, that Greenpeace puts pressure on the fast fashion industry to reduce the water pollution that they cause. The campaign has been running for some years now, and the video below is a 2015 update on some companies that have agreed to reduce the chemicals they produce.

There are many reports on Greenpeace's website for further reading. One I have skimmed and will read in full later is Toxic Threads: Polluting Paradise, which focuses on water pollution produced by the textile industry in Indonesia. There is an interesting paragraph on the decline on indigo use in the region and the move to chemical dyes:

There is a long history of textiles dyeing in the Citarum River watershed, named after the abundance of tarum, a plant that has been widely cultivated as the source of natural indigo dye since the 4th century. However, the long and complicated process required to extract colour from the indigo plant meant that, ultimately, batik makers preferred the new synthetic chemical dyes. Today, the tarum plant is no longer grown in the Citarum watershed, despite the fact that the cultivation and processing of tarum and other indigo-based dyes used to be such a vital part of its culture. No effort has been made to develop newer, more efficient, technology-driven ways to produce indigo based dyes. 

The last sentence is particularly poignant!