According to Greenpeace, fast fashion giant processes toxic substances

Young people in particular are turning to fast fashion – mainly because of the low prices.photo: pexels/ Borko Manigoda

11/24/2022, 10:25 am11/24/2022, 11:59 am

Saskia Balser

Fast fashion is a huge environmental disaster, but stores like H&M and Zara remain popular, especially among young people. The brands are still quite “slow” compared to Shein (pronounced: She in). Because the Chinese fashion group brings up to 9,000 new items to its website and social media channels every day.

But that’s not the only environmental sin the ultra-fast fashion brand has to answer for. According to a Greenpeace report, some of Shein’s products may contain hazardous chemicals that violate EU directives.

Laboratory analysis yields shocking results

The Bremen Environmental Institute (BUI) researched 47 Shein products, both clothing and shoes, on behalf of Greenpeace. Hazardous chemicals were found in seven of these, the concentration of which amply exceeded the limit values ​​set by the EU in the so-called REACH regulation. Sometimes the measured values ​​were a hundred times higher than allowed.

“In a dress for a small child, the laboratory detected high levels of the cancer-causing formaldehydethe plasticizers are phthalates in a shoe,” explains Viola Wohlgemuth, a resource conservation and circular economy expert at Greenpeace, in the report.

The results make it clear that Shein has no oversight of chemical management at its own suppliers,” Wohlgemuth complains. The fact that the online giant has not published a list of hazardous chemicals that are banned from production is concerning.

Shein focuses on a young audience

Shein rose to prominence in a short time. Also because the group advertises its products on Tiktok, YouTube and Instagram and thus appeals precisely to the target group that is enthusiastic about fast fashion: the eight to 26-year-olds.

Shein’s strategy is simple and unforgiving: The company copies styles from other designers and brands, transforms them directly into clothing, and sells them at rock bottom prices. An eight euro wedding dress is just the tip of the iceberg.

“The group responds to the fact that the youngest are not yet aware of the immense social and environmental impact of cheaply produced clothing.”

Green Peace

Influencers promote the garments on their channels. The immense presence on social media mainly appeals to the young generation. Greenpeace writes in the report: “The group exploits the fact that the youngest in our society are not yet aware of the immense social and environmental impact of cheaply produced clothing.”

Greenpeace accuses Shein of wasting resources

Greenpeace complains that Shein makes disposable clothing. Because many customers return a large number of products – and not all of them make it back into the sales cycle. Because many online mail order companies destroy returned goods because they are less affected.

“In addition, many buyers prefer to throw away the textile rather than return it if the shipping is more expensive than the product.”criticizes Greenpeace expert Wohlgemuth.

Discarded clothing is usually not biodegradable because it is made of plastic and mixed materials. It therefore pollutes the environment not only during production, but also as waste.

“Sustainably produced”, “raw material saving”, “fully recyclable”: Sustainable companies are now a dime a dozen, because ‘being green’ is very fashionable and will remain so. This is the conclusion of a recent study by the largest German market research institute GfK.

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