In the hustle and bustle of Taipei’s East District shopping area yesterday, members of Greenpeace Taiwan dressed up as mannequins to protest in front of the ZARA flagship store, calling on the brand to commit to eliminating the use of toxic chemicals in its manufacturing process.
An investigative report on the use of toxic chemicals by 20 global fashion brands around the world released by the organization on Tuesday showed that 63 percent of garments tested contained hazardous nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) and a number of garments contained various types of plasticizers or cancer-causing aromatic amine.
Of the 141 garments tested, clothes from ZARA showed the most severe toxicity, with seven of the 10 items tested containing one or more of the three kinds of aforementioned hazardous chemicals.
Dressed in fashionable clothes with signs reading “danger” hanging around their necks, seven Greenpeace volunteers made-up to look like mannequins silently struck angry poses in front of the store’s main entrance, to express their concern about the poisonous chemicals in the clothing.
“I am here today because I don’t want to see any brand arbitrarily hurt the environment anymore,” a volunteer nicknamed Hoki said, adding that “the toxic substances will remain [in the environment] even if we wash the clothes. I don’t want fashion brands to succeed by sacrificing public health.”
Greenpeace said that although exposure to NPEs through clothing is not dangerous, the compound can contaminate the environment when it breaks down into a bio-accumulative toxic substance, nonylphenols (NP), meaning it can be accumulated in our body through the food chain or water supply.
The demonstration in Taipei was one of 80 held at ZARA stores around the world as part of the activist group’s global campaign to raise awareness of the issue.
Greenpeace in Taiwan said the brand should be socially responsible by making public information on the hazardous substances used in its manufacturing process and also commit to a schedule to phase out the use of these substances by 2020 or earlier.
The director of Greenpeace’s pollution prevention campaign in Taiwan, Rose Lai (賴倩如), said that “in order to wipe out the toxic chemicals and guarantee a safe non-toxic environment for the public, the government must schedule meetings to add these substances onto the lists of regulated toxic chemicals.”