Greenpeace’s ‘Detox Catwalk’ to toxic-free fashion reveals the Trendsetters, Greenwashers and Laggards

detox catwalk

Last week, Greenpeace International released its “Detox Catwalk”, an “interactive online platform assessing the progress made by major clothing companies towards a toxic-free future”.

Greenpeace’s goal is that the fashion industry should be toxic free by 2020. Our constant demand for the latest fashion made at the cheapest price has created an industry that cuts corners to keep shelves stocked with new lines that are costing mere pennies to make. These ‘corners’, however, are no trifling matter. Cuts are resulting in lands and rivers flooded with chemicals, clean water supplies being reduced, the safety of people being overlooked and more. Those who get the blame are the companies who are the biggest buyer of the manufactured goods. They are often the ones who are cutting costs in such flagrant ways.

When Greenpeace launched its ‘Detox’ programme in 2011, many of the ‘High Street Shops’ signed up to the programme. Some have been very proactive while others have yet to come up with an individual plan. The ‘Detox’ campaign aims to get them all on the same page by a target of 2020 and the ‘Catwalk’ campaign is putting their progress on display and labeling the companies as ‘Trendsetters’ or ‘Leaders’, ‘Greenwashers’ and ‘Laggards’.

Greenpeace outlines the three groups as follows:
Leaders – Detox committed companies leading the industry towards a toxic-free future with credible timelines, concrete actions and on-the-ground implementation.
Greenwashers – Detox committed companies failing to walk the talk, masking ineffective actions with paper promises and weak commitments
Laggards – Uncommitted toxic addicts that refuse to take responsibility for their toxic trail and have yet to make a credible, individual Detox commitment.

The assessment is based upon the credibility of a company’s Detox commitment and its actions to deliver on the ground outcomes. The committed companies are grouped according to their commitments and actions under three critical headings: Core Principles, Transparency and Elimination. . Greenpeace have assessed all the companies who have committed to the Detox programme except those in the ‘Laggards’ category as they have not yet made their individual commitments.

Campaigns like this will ‘name and shame’ some of the companies in to action but at the end of the day, if the demand is there, these fashion brands will continue to supply it. Until we as consumers start to demand answers to questions like where were my clothes made, and how, and by whom, then where is the motivation for the companies to supply the answers and to make changes?


Re-Introducing Children into the Wild by Project Wild Thing’s David Bond

10138864256_a78cb58a76_bFilmmaker David Bond has just released ‘Project Wild Thing’ to tie in with The Wild Network’s campaign to get kids back in to the outdoors. Here he explains how the idea for the film began and where it took him. Read our story about the launch here.

I’m a father of two small children. I look at their lives and worry. They spend the bulk of their time indoors, playing with plastic toys that spill out of cupboards, watching television, playing games on the computer and stroking apps on the iPad. What they don’t do much is go outside.

They scream when I suggest we go out for a walk. My daughter, Ivy (6), prefers the television. ‘How much do you love TV?’ I ask. ‘A hundred billion per cent’, she replies, ‘It’s so relaxing’.

Two years ago, I decided to do something.9670569769_8cdd357c72_b

My inner geek needed numbers to work with. I am a filmmaker. I strapped a camera to Ivy’s head to find out how she spends her time: the bulk of it – over a quarter is on screens. Just 4% playing outdoors; the same proportion as she spends in the bathroom.

Yet when she does play outdoors, she enjoys herself far more. My children love nature – they love being outdoors. They just don’t choose it.

All the science shows that getting outdoors is hugely beneficial to children and young people. It improves their health, reduces stress and boosts wellbeing. Just the view of greenery from an exam hall window helps students achieve better grades.

A UNICEF report finally convinced me. It compares child well being in Spain, the UK and Sweden. Across all three countries, children describe a ‘good day’ as being one where they spent time with their family outdoors. But in the UK, children get much less of this than elsewhere – less even than in colder Sweden. When I ask Ivy to remember her ideal day, screens are not mentioned. She talks about camping or playing together in the garden.9340352577_29765d5ef4_b

My daughter misses nature. She’s not alone: millions of children are increasingly disconnected from the natural world. Children today spend half the time playing outdoors as their parents did. A third more children can identify a Dalek than can spot a magpie.

This retreat from the wild has serious implications. The British Heart Foundation has spoken up about the importance of an ‘outdoors childhood’ in tackling child health inequalities. Published in June, the State of Nature report, shows that tenth of species are at severe risk of extinction. If children don’t learn hands-on about nature, why would they care to save it?

Their generation face tough environmental challenges. But why bother preserving the ash tree if they can’t name it, have never climbed it or slept under it?

Disconnection from nature affects all children: rural and urban, rich and poor.

Making ‘Project Wild thing’ I spent 18 months travelling across the UK, talking to children of all different ages, races, and social backgrounds. The more I met, the clearer it became that, although all children want and need nature, they don’t choose it or get it. The barriers they face are overwhelming, ranging from parents too afraid of strangers to let their children out through heavily congested roads to a lack of suitable green space.

Project Wild Thing addresses one barrier in particular: the commercialization of childhood. Marketers sell my children everything under the sun. They give them a view of nature so idealistic that the reality of their small garden in South London can never compete. Appointing myself the Marketing Director of Nature, I decided to ‘sell’ nature as the ultimate adventure. I wanted to compete with Disney and Nintendo.

I ran a major marketing campaign. I put posters up on billboards in railway stations across the country. I spoke to children in the most remote Scottish islands and in the busiest of city estates. But on my own, it was never going to be enough.

We all need to be Marketing Directors of Nature – and the best way to sell the product is to enjoy it ourselves.

Project Wild Thing will be shown in cinemas nationwide from the 25 October – screening details can be found at here.

David Bond is a filmmaker9343142752_24aa206053_b

The Fableists Talk to World Class Green Printer Seacourt

The Fableists Clothing Passports

The Fableists Clothing Passports

Seacourt was a well-established printing company (having been launched in 1946) before becoming one of the first printing firms to achieve EMAS certification in 1999. The company has been recognised as ‘one of the top three leading environmental printers in the world’ by a worldwide printing association. They have won two coveted Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development.

We’re honoured to have Seacourt as part of our story. They are responsible for printing The Fableists’ clothing passports, which we told you about in a previous post.

We spoke to their Green Guardian, Lynda Willis.

The Fableists > So, wow! You really are the best of the best when it comes to green printing! Tell us how it happened that you changed from traditional printing to green printing back in the 90’s.

LW > Our then MD and Sales Director went to a printing conference and discovered that printing, the UK’s 5 largest manufacturing industry was classed in the same environmental risk industry as mining, oil and nuclear power. Imagine that multiplied throughout the UK and then throughout the world – scary stuff ! We decided there and then to clean up our act. The most radical change was the conversion to waterless printing. Our poor printers had to completely relearn their skills, it was a lot of hard work and needed a massive commitment from all the staff. But we stuck with it and have continued to improve our environmental performance.

QA Presentation

The Fableists > You have won several awards and accreditations. How much do these help with winning business?

LW > It certainly helps because these awards are independently assessed so it supports what we do and gives value to the work we produce. It’s wonderful to have the recognition of the Guardian, SEEDA and of course her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

The accreditations keep us on our toes, EMAS for instance is difficult to gain in the first place and even more difficult to keep as you have to show continuous improvement. Over the last 15 years we have reduced our water consumption, changed to 100% renewable energy and were the first printing company in the world to achieve accredited zero waste to landfill, but we still have plans to do even more.

The Fableists > Do you find that businesses come to you as a result of your reputation for stringent green standards?

LW > More and more businesses and charities are looking for ways to improve their environmental performance. Frankly, changing to Seacourt is an easy win. Nothing has to change from the client’s point of view – the artwork is just the same. The client gets back a job which has been produced without water and Isopropyl alcohol, using 100% renewable energy, on 100% recycled paper using vegetable oil based inks, is carbon neutral and zero waste to landfill. Add into this bundle of goodies the fact that Waterless printing produces brighter colours and sharper text you can see why printing from Seacourt is a must for many organisations.

The Fableists > Everyone has been asking us about the rhino poo paper that we’ve chosen for our passports. Can you tell us how the paper is made?

LW > Yes, it’s a great product, and I think it’s probably the greenest handmade paper you can buy. Initially waste paper is collected from UK schools and colleges. The paper is de-inked but no bleaches or detergents are used. The resulting pulp is mixed with various elements which gives the paper its unique qualities, including petals, old bank notes, even rhino poo (collected from UK zoos). The paper is produced on a Fourdrinier paper making machine. Not only is the paper making green but it is ethical too: the ellie poo paper supports an elephant charity, and the denim paper is made from charity shop donations which cannot be sold.Bamboo Banner Stand ready

The Fableists > What other amazing papers and surfaces do you print on?

LW > Exhibition and event graphics and banners are sadly still being produced with PVC (which for Seacourt is a no no), so part of my remit is to find environmentally responsible materials for our large format section. We have a biodegradable outdoor banner material with clear eyelets, and to complement our bamboo banner stands, a lovely bamboo fibre material.

For the digital and waterless printing most people just need a good 100% recycled paper, but recently we were asked to find a paper not just made in the UK but made from UK pulp, we found one and the client is delighted with the quality. Of course we have fun too, we have used paper with British wild flower seeds and for Christmas there will be Reindeer poo with conifer seeds!

The Fableists > We understand the paper is made using traditional techniques in a heritage building. Can you visit?

LW > Certainly you can visit, the paper mill dates back to 1803 and promotes and educates schools on sustainable living. Just call 01442 231234 for details.

The Fableists > What kind of ink did you use on our passports?

LW > We used a fluorescent green ink, in a pantone number specified by the brilliant creative agency, Brothers and Sisters [and designed by Freytag Anderson]. The vibrancy was a great contrast to the rough texture of the rhino poo paper. Apart from our 5 colour waterless press we also have single and two colour presses so that we can print pure pantone colours with vegetable oil inks based when specified.

The Fableists > Printing processes can have very harmful effects on the environment, from chemicals being dumped, to excess water usage. How is Seacourt different?

LW > Have look at our Naturally Responsible logo.


See all those 100%s? We carry that through all of over business, so it’s not just the printing presses that are waterless, so is our plate making and so is the urinal ! Although we use 100% renewable energy we don’t waste it and have light sensors in the building.

Without getting too technical, ordinary litho printing requires water which needs a wetting agent, this Isopropyl alcohol is nasty stuff, that horrid smell you get when you open a box of not waterless printing is produced by VOCs. We don’t use water, so we don’t need IPAs- simple stuff !

The Fableists > Seacourt is a pioneer in the field of green printing. Do other printing companies come to you for advice on ‘going green’?

LW > As a pioneer we are now so far ahead of the field that it is difficult for other printing companies to replicate what we do. It takes years and dedication to work sustainably in this industry so a lot of printers are taking short cuts. Sadly most of the so-called green printers just have basic accreditations such as ISO 14001, use recycled paper with vegetable oil based inks and call themselves a green printing company. There is no accepted definition of what makes a green printing company but we believe that it means a total belief in the ethos and values of sustainability and keep pushing the boundaries. Who would have thought it possible for a printing company not to send any waste to landfill?

The Fableists > From Seacourt’s perspective, does it feel like mentalities are changing and that more people are embracing greener, more sustainable practices in business?

LW > When we first changed our way of printing, climate change was not on the agenda. Now everyone has heard of it and it and is aware that we should all be doing what we can.
Most of us recycle at home without thinking about it, we may shop for locally grown or locally made produce, we insulate our homes and turn off the taps, but it is only quite recently that this care for our environment has come into the workplace, but it a gathering force for good. Most of our clients do come to us because we have the highest environmental standards, but we also have some who come to us for our service and quality. At one of our recent environmental seminars, one of our clients, who is a major producer of consumer goods, contacted us to say he had no idea that print was so damaging and he was going to specify waterless printing as standard. Of course we love working with charities and environmentalists, but that kind of convert makes our day.

The Fableists Pop Up at Brothers and Sisters

DSC_0082Our partner and agency Brothers and Sisters have created a lovely pop up shop in the entrance of their offices. They have a number of our artist-designed t-shirts available for sale in the shop, as well as samples of the first collection. You can pop in to buy t-shirts and see the clothes in person.

31a Clerkenwell Close, London EC1R 0AT

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