11/26/2012 22:35
Israeli activists join international campaign against retailer for chemicals in products, including children’s jeans.

With cloths draped over their faces to disguise themselves as mannequins, Greenpeace activists clad in Zara clothing protested outside the company’s Dizengoff Street store on Monday, as part of a global campaign against the fashion chain’s alleged use of toxins.

The Israeli members have joined an international Greenpeace campaign against the store they have called the “largest fashion retailer” in the world as a result of a toxicology report that the organization released this week. Examining 141 products from different manufacturers – including Zara, Levi’s, Marks & Spencer, Mango and Calvin Klein – researchers discovered the highest quantity of toxins present in Zara products, though others also contained many, according to Greenpeace.

“We are here today to demand that both Zara Israel and the decision-makers at Zara globally stop using toxic chemicals in the clothes they sell in Israel,” said Yael Ifergan, the local campaign manager here. “This demand will help stop the flow of these toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in Chinese rivers, and will also help stop the pollution of our waste-water that can then reach the groundwater and the agriculture.”

Activists have been demonstrating outside the company’s stores in Spain, the Netherlands and Germany, holding signs that read “stop the poisoning.”

The protest effort will culminate next week, when hundreds of activists worldwide perform a mannequin stunt similar to the one that occurred in Israel on Sunday.

Greenpeace is singling out Zara because it faired worst in the report and also “churns out a whopping 850 million clothing items a year,” according to the organization.

An example from the report that the group provided was Zara’s children’s jeans, which contain “dyes that can release a carcinogenic amine under certain conditions,” Greenpeace reported. In addition to the amine, the jeans also contain “nonylphenol ethoxylates, which break down in the environment to form toxic, hormone-disrupting chemicals,” the organization said.

Nearly 300,000 people have joined Greenpeace’s online detox protest against Zara. Other competitors that have had toxin problems, like Marks & Spencer and H&M, have made concrete commitments to phasing out the poisons from their clothing, unlike Zara, according to the organization.

In response to the Greenpeace campaign, the Inditex Group – which owns Zara – said it assures that “stringent quality controls” apply to all of its products, following the most rigorous safety standards worldwide.

“Regarding the results of the analysis made by Greenpeace, Inditex already has sent to this organization the appropriate information from the independent laboratories permanently working on this matter,” a statement from Inditex said, adding that the laboratories’ garments comply with health and environmental standards.

Already for several months Inditex has been holding discussions with Greenpeace to reach a convincing and realistic Detox Solution Proposal, according to the company.

“Inditex reaffirms its environmental commitment and its public transparency and communication policy, with absolute respect to all parties, including suppliers, and we reiterate our willingness to take the necessary actions to reach, in the shortest time possible, the common goal of zero discharge of hazardous substances that may be in the textile world.”