According to “Sfilata Detox” organized by Greenpeace, Zara (Inditex group), H&M and Benetton are the best brands in terms of sustainability.

The results, published today, are the outcome of a survey conducted by Greenpeace aimed at evaluating the improvement of 19 big brands in the fashion world towards the complete elimination of the toxic materials.

Giuseppe Ungherese , the person in charge of the pollution campaign of Greenpeace Italia, states: “We congratulate Benetton, Zara and H&M for their management and their ability to impose a new international standard towards a fashion free from toxic substances. These industries are actually demonstrating  that it is already possible to clean the fashion world from poisonous materials.”

On the other hand, Esprit, Nike, Victoria’s Secret and LiNing got the worst results, because they didn’t impede the pollution caused by the chemicals they use in their industries.

“Sfilata Detox” works like this: brands decide to adhere to the Greenpeace campaign following several criteria, such as the elimination of dangerous chemicals from their products and from the production processes, and they commit to  publish transparent information about the unloading of toxic materials by their suppliers. [If you’re interested in a more detailed description of the criteria used to draw up the classification, here you can find the official document.]

The brands participating to the campaign this year were 19 and 12 of them are considered part of the category “Fashion that changes”; even if they made progresses, they have to improve some evaluation criteria in order to respect the 2020 deadline: the complete elimination of the toxic substances.

Brands like Adidas, Burberry, Levi’s, Primark and Puma, adopt a list of chemicals that is proposed by the ZDHC group ( Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals), that evaluates only the insertion of polluting materials and considers also tolerance limits for certain substances, so they continue tolerating pollution in several phases of the production process.

Other brands, such as C&A, Fast Retailing, G-Star, Mango, Valentino and Miroglio, even if they are included in the same category, have a higher score because they obtained better results in terms of elimination of toxicity.

The pollution of waters caused by the textile industry is a very important topic, especially in countries like China, where more than 80% of aquifers is not potable. According to a survey conducted by the Chinese Minister for the Water Resources, four fifths of the water taken from wells is not secure because of pollution.

As for Italy, the textile sector demonstrated an higher sensibility towards sustainability. More than 50 firms adhered to “Sfilata Detox” and 27 of them are based in Prato, a city next to Florence (where we live), which is the biggest textile district in Europe. Prato is heart of the revolution “Detox” in our country.

Textile sector – Prato, Italy
Textile sector – Prato, Italy
Textile sector – Prato, Italy

In the light of the terroristic attack of few days ago in Dacca (Bangladesh), it worths noting that many Italian and international firms in the textile sector have economic relations with the country. Entrepreneurs from all over the world travel to Bangladesh in order to monitor investments and partnerships, but also to make sure that working conditions and sustainability are respected and get as close as possible to the Western standards.

This kind of trend emerged in 2013, after the biggest disaster in the textile industry history (24 April): the collapse of a crumbling factory in Rana Plaza, that caused more than 1.130 deaths and 2.550 injured.

Second anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse
Dhaka, Bangladesh – Rana Plaza, 24 April 2013
Dhaka, Bangladesh – Rana Plaza, 24 April 2013

Also today none knows which brands produced in the 8 floors factory with no security requirement or hygiene.

That’s how the Accord on Fire and Building Safety was born in Bangladesh: 217 fashion brands committed to address 10 million Euros to the improvement of the factories. We can list some of the biggest: Artsana, Benetton, Coin/OVS, Teddy, H&M, Inditex group (Zara), Adidas.

But the real impulse will come from final consumers, especially the youngest. Recent studies demonstrate that the so-called Millennials (the ones born from 1980 to 2000) want to know everything about the social and environmental sustainability of a brand, and more than 80% of them is inclined to spend more for a more ethic and certified product.

If you’re young and you love fashion and beauty and you care about yourself and your future, but you’re not apparently interested in environmental issues or social issues and so on, especially with regard to fashion, please watch this documentary: “The true cost” (by Livia Firth).