Little Monsters

In 2014 Greenpeace launched a campaign entitled “A Little Story about the Monsters in your Closet”; this clever and emotive campaign followed several previous investigations published by Greenpeace as part of its Detox campaign which identified that hazardous chemicals are present in textile and leather products as a result of their use during manufacture.

The story of the little monsters was, in summary, a testing investigation whereby Greenpeace found a broad range of hazardous chemicals in children’s clothing and footwear across a number of major clothing brands, including fast fashion, sportswear and luxury brands.

A total of 82 children’s textile products were purchased in May and June 2013 in 25 countries/regions worldwide from flagship stores, or from other authorised retailers. They were manufactured in at least twelve different countries/regions.

All products were investigated for the presence of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs); certain products were also analysed for phthalates, organotins, per/poly-fluorinated chemicals (PFCs), and antimony, where the analysis was relevant for the type of product. The project revealed a large number of products whereby the aforementioned chemicals were detected in quantifiable levels. Greenpeace then published this data. Many brands found themselves named in the little monsters campaign; although the levels of chemicals found were below the legislative limits in some cases.

Furthermore, Greenpeace created several poignant marketing campaigns which highlighted the presence of ‘little monsters’ in children’s clothing. Each chemical of interest was given a cartoon-like avatar whereby the hazardous properties were depicted as super-powers. There were also images of children wearing clothes with the little monsters intact, accompanied with slogans such as “I want to grow up without little monsters!” The little monsters campaign was successful in terms of capturing people’s attention and creating an emotive reaction amongst readers.

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