In July 2011, Greenpeace started 'Detox My Fashion', a movement that aims to eliminate the release of hazardous chemicals into waterways, by committing large fashion retailers to stop using these chemicals in their manufacturing process by 2020.
There are over 76 international fashion retailers that have made the commitment to the movement, including Adidas, Valentino and Primark.
Once signed up to the programme, the brands have the goal of being chemical-free by 2020, and Greenpeace publishes information regarding their progress every year.
They evaluate each individual brand in three ways, taken into consideration together. Firstly, they must have a system in place to eliminate the chemicals putting them on track for realistically becoming chemical free by 2020.
Secondly, they must be eliminating PFC's (perfluorinated chemicals, that aren't found at all in nature and take a long time to degrade) by replacing them with safer alternatives.
These chemicals pollute drinking water supplies around the world, putting the environment, the people and the animals that rely upon these waterways in danger.
Lastly, the companies must be honest about how seriously they're taking the commitment.
Transparency is probably one of the most important things, as being honest about the ecological impact of their products enables customers to make an informed choice about where to shop, and where to avoid.
How brands rank is calculated by recognising their in all three of these areas. There's a four tier system of excellence, with the highest being 'avant-garde'. The three brands to have reached avant-garde status are Inditex (the company behind Zara), H&M Group, and Benetton.
Inditex, who own Zara, Bershka and Pull&Bear, were the highest ranking, having made every effort in every area. They recently donated €3.7 million to water.org, so you can carry on shopping at Zara, knowing you're supporting a brand that is dedicated to cleaning up their eco-footprint.
H&M already has a conscious collection and as an incentive to recycle old clothes, you're able to exchange a bag of unwanted clothes for a voucher in many stores. It seems now, that H&M has gone one step further- making an effort to alter their damaging relationship with chemicals.
In an industry that is second only to oil in its negative impact upon the environment, it's good to see Greenpeace encouraging a more sustainable approach to manufacturing high street clothing. It's even better to see Zara, H&M and Benetton taking it seriously, and making progress towards being chemical free and clear.
For a more detailed account about the aims and progress of Detox My Fashion, click here.