GOOD

Low Fashion: H&M Has a Pollution Problem

A factory that major brand H&M partners with is polluting Chinese rivers, but I'm still going to shop there. Here's why.


Greenpeace yesterday released the results of year-long investigation into the manufacturing practices of a suite of international clothing brands. The report, which ties the brands to two Chinese factories that dump toxic chemicals into the country’s Yangtze and Pearl rivers, calls out Nike, Adidas, Puma, Converse, Calvin Klein, Abercrombie & Fitch, Lacoste, and H&M. It's that last one made me feel really guilty.

To shop for clothes sustainably, there are a few rules to follow: Go to clothing swaps, shop at thrift stores and consignment shops, make do with less, buy from green clothing companies that source organic materials. But my problem with those rules is that following them requires a lot of time and effort, not to mention a more developed sense of style than I possess. In my family, I’m known as a notoriously impatient shopper. On mall runs, my mom will make sure to perk me up with soda or greasy mall food if we’re there for longer than fifty minutes. Otherwise I get as testy as a 4-year-old who missed her nap.

But about a month ago, when it started getting really hot in New York City, I realized I wasn’t going to make it through the summer without at least twice as many dresses as I had in my closet; I had to go shopping. I live in the East Village, which is blessed with a wealth of thrift stores and high-end consignment shops. There’s a store that sells sustainable clothing not five blocks away from my apartment. And I had visited many of them in my search for the dresses and tank-tops I needed. I had not found much of anything. H&M, on the other hand, had exactly what I wanted, and after spending about a half an hour in the store, I had purchased the clothes I’ve been living in since the beginning of June.

Given how cheap the store’s clothes are, I could have guessed that someone, somewhere was definitely suffering so that I could spend but $4.95 on a tank-top. On its website the company promises that it will “be climate smart,” “use natural resources responsibly,” and “choose and reward responsible partners.” H&M also uses organic and recycled cotton, and it plans to use only cotton from sustainable sources by 2020. That all means less to me after taking a look at Greenpeace’s pictures of the gooey yellow effluent that the Youngor textiles factory, run by a company H&M works with, is sending into the world. In its defense, H&M told Greenpeace that its products don’t rely on the “wet processes” that create this type of waste. Fine. But continuing a relationship with a company responsible for polluting China’s waterways does not count as choosing and rewarding responsible partners.

I don’t know that I could stop shopping at stores like H&M—without the dresses I bought there, I probably would have overheated by now—but organizations like Greenpeace offer an option to address these problems outside of becoming a dedicated thrifter. With assists like this one from Greenpeace, customers can put pressure on clothing companies to live up to their ideals and ditch partners that don’t. As Greenpeace argues in its report, “through their choices of suppliers, the design of their products and the control they can exert over the use of chemicals in the production process and the final product,” companies like H&M have the best chance of changing dangerous production processes in the textile industry. Opting out of the mainstream market can have an impact, but so can buying in.


Photo via flickr user twicepix, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

Articles
via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading
Business

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

Keep Reading
Health

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

Keep Reading