A Beautiful Game Being Played Dirty

The world of football is buzzing with excitement and for many of the fans, the World Cup can’t get here soon enough. Sadly though, it is not just excitement that is wrapped around this tournament. Football, a sport loved by many, has been hounded with controversies, one of which concerns the official outfitter of this year’s World Cup, adidas. This leading sports brand prides itself for its legacy and passion for sports. Being the leader on anything and everything sports is at the core of the adidas Group. And today, in the midst of the environmental issues that adidas is facing, there are troubling questions they must answer truthfully.

How do you claim to love a sport when you have tainted it with poison?
Does brand leadership involve putting your followers (peers, customers, employees, partners, et cetera) at risk?
Is football still beautiful if it is stained with a supply chain that harms the environment and put the lives of its workers and customers at risk?

Back in 2011 when Greenpeace launched the Detox campaign by publishing the Dirty Laundry report (a list of global fashion brands that have harmful chemicals in their supply chain processes), adidas was one of the first companies to commit to clean up their processes, which looking back was admirable and very much aligned with their core values as a leader in the sports industry. Other fashion brands have also followed suit and made the commitment to detox. However, unlike H&M, Mango and Uniqlo, just to name a few, adidas has not kept its promise. Investigations conducted by Greenpeace Germany and some independent laboratories showed that adidas products still contain hazardous chemicals. These chemicals appear on boots, goalkeeper gloves and the official “Brazuca” ball. A Greenpeace press release on the Detox campaign points out that “These hazardous substances can leach from the products into the environment or get into the food chain. Some of them potentially cause cancer, disrupt the hormonal system or can be toxic to reproduction.” Hence, Greenpeace has now branded adidas as a greenwasher, or a company supposedly commited to the Detox campaign but fails to implement the necessary actions to clean up their manufacturing processes.

In response, adidas countered the accusations and reiterated their commitment to the Detox campaign, even citing their transparency in the supply chain and carefully monitoring or regulating toxics. The company also pointed out that as a founding member of Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC), they remain committed to the Joint Roadmap, “a plan that sets a new standard of environmental performance for the global apparel and footwear industry.” The ZDHC has been widely criticized as being overly ambitious and lacking the concrete steps to carry out their timeline for the roadmap. At the end of the day, adidas can make numerous promises and lay out various plans to eliminate the toxins in their manufacturing but as long as these chemicals are showing up in their products and in waterways where their toxins end up in, adidas has nothing to show of their true commitment to cleaning up their act.

Adidas cannot keep the game beautiful by playing dirty. It’s high time they walk the talk. No more hiding in bold pronouncements and empty promises. Adidas has long convinced the world that “Impossible is Nothing.” It’s now their turn to believe that it was not just another empty marketing ploy but instead a life rule and a challenge that also applies to them, especially when it comes to the safety and sustainability of their products. Only when adidas goes “all in” on detox can we keep the game beautiful.

Sources:
“Dirty Laundry. Unraveling the corporate connections to toxic water pollution in China.” greenpeace.org. Greenpeace International 12 July 2011. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/reports/Dirty-Laundry/ 27 May 2014

“About ZDHC” ZDHC. http://www.roadmaptozero.com/about-zdhc.php/ 28 May 2014

Manfred Santen “Greenpeace investigation reveals toxic scandal with World Cup merchandise” greenpeace.org Greenpeace International 19 May 2014 http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/Greenpeace-investigation-reveals-toxic-scandal-with-World-Cup-merchandise/ 27 May 2014

Pia Ranada “Toxic trend? Harmful chemicals found in big fashion brands” rappler.com. Rappler 25 Jan 2014 http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/Greenpeace-investigation-reveals-toxic-scandal-with-World-Cup-merchandise/ 29 May 2014

“The Detox Catwalk” greenpeace.org. Greenpeace International 2013 http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/toxics/water/detox/Detox
-Catwalk/ 27 May 2014

Advertisements

That Awkward Moment When I Was A Drunken Tiger

On the 9th of March, along with five other Greenpeace volunteers, I donned a tiger costume, faked fierceness and roared to campaign against the deforestation in Indonesia. To clarify, I was not in Indonesia, I was at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife. It was my first foray in environmental campaigns.

Image

It was a beautiful Sunday morning, the sun not too hot and a mild breeze was comforting for the crowd at Wilflife, mostly families, hobbyists and the GP (Greenpeace) activists. It was an almost perfect day for a save-the-trees campaign. Almost.

If we’re friends on Facebook and/or Twitter or in real life, you may have remembered me posting about GP’s campaign to stop the massive deforestation in Indonesia. You see, big corporations have this not-so-great, in fact, a fraction below evil and totally irresponsible idea of clearing the forests and replacing them with palm tree plantations. Why? Because palm oil is like gold in manufacturing. A lot of the products we use in our daily life uses palm oil: soap, toothpaste, shampoo, chocolates, cooking oil, you get the picture. To be fair, and this may restore your faith in humanity, some manufacturers have already committed to join the campaign and not to get their palm oil from the Indonesian forest turned palm tree plantations. But as it is, there are still major corporations who have not joined the call. I’m looking at you Procter & Gamble. Hello, there, Head & Shoulders.

So Greenpeace is urging the public not to boycott P&G products but rather, ask P&G to use palm oil from sustainable sources. See, profit or progress is never an excuse for destroying the forests.

By the way, the forest in Indonesia is considered the lungs of Southeast Asia. You don’t want your lungs destroyed, right?

jump shot

Anyway, on a lighter note, I just want to share what I learned from the activity:

* Don’t attend a GP event (or any outdoor activity for that matter) with alcohol still in your bloodstream or hungover as alcohol has been infamously linked to impairment of judgement. So expect a lot of second guessing your actions and trouble remembering instructions. Also, decision making skills may be a bit slow, at times, almost nonexistent and definitely not so impressive.

* Being lethargic does not really go well with a tiger costume at the park. Faking alertness and an upbeat mood is inversely proportional to the amount of alcohol you have just consumed a couple of hours prior.

* Keep in mind the importance of staying vertical when you’re nauseous. At one point, they asked us to be on all fours because, you know, tigers, and I almost hurled. I tried my best to stay standing from that point onwards. There is no way you can be fierce while vomiting.

* If you hold a sign saying Free #TigerHug, random strangers will approach you for a hug. Maximize the awkwardness by educating them on the campaign. Hey, they owe you for the hug.

* You get instant good vibes when you hug a tree. Enough said.

* Trees do have a way of reminding you of beauty and selflessness and first love and poetry and rusty childhood memories. No, seriously, they give us oxygen and then we cut them. Harsh much?

* Doing something for the environment gives you a high. Alcohol can do that, too, but the former does not make you puke.

 

 

Note: Photos by Isko Noveda

PS. To get a better picture about this campaign, please watch this t.co/7s588QSMap