Carter's Responds to Calls to Remove Toxic Chemicals from Baby Clothes, Improve Sustainability Practices

Hanging Clothes
Green America Praises Clothing Manufacturer on “Good First Step,” But Urges Further Action to Protect Workers and The Environment

WASHINGTON, DC – April 9, 2020 – Carter’s, the largest U.S. retailer of baby clothes, is taking an important first step towards limiting toxic chemicals in its supply chain, and it is doing so as a result of pressure from Green America and its members.

Green America launched a campaign in 2019 and published a report showing Carter’s was among the worst actors in the textile industry on environmental and social practices. Nearly 15,000 consumers have joined Green America in calling on Carter’s to clean up its supply chain and release a Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL), which would go a step further than an Restricted Substances List (which only protects consumers) by limiting harmful chemicals that workers and their communities are exposed to in the manufacturing process.

Carter’s actions include releasing an RSL, disclosing information about energy usage and waste reduction, and providing greater transparency about efforts to protect human rights within its supply chain.

Green America lauded the move but pointed out that the company should do more.

“A public RSL is a good first step, but without an MRSL, it is a partial solution at best. Carter’s must now also prioritize the health of workers in its supply chain and limit their exposure to harmful chemicals through a MRSL,” said Charlotte Tate, manager of Labor Justice Campaigns at Green America. “We are glad to see Carter’s take steps to protect its customers, but we urge them to take it further and not leave workers out of the solution.”

“Major industry players are often not transparent about what chemicals are used, and we do not have sufficient understanding of the impacts of the thousands of chemicals used on human and environmental health,” stated Todd Larsen, executive co-director of Consumer and Corporate Engagement at Green America. “Though, some states, including Washington, Oregon, and Vermont, have disclosure requirements for children’s products sold within that state. In recent years, Carter’s has disclosed using harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, arsenic and arsenic compounds, and cadmium, and that’s why it is good to see Carter’s taking steps to start protecting the children who wear the company’s clothes.

Carter’s also committed to supporting suppliers in obtaining Oeko-Tex certification to limit chemical usage in raw materials and has sourced more organic cotton then in previous years. Using organic cotton limits the harmful chemicals that workers are exposed to in growing and manufacturing, and it limits chemical runoff which pollutes waterways and local communities.

Over 8,000 chemicals are used in textile manufacturing. An estimated 20 percent of industrial water pollution is attributed to the textile manufacturing industry. Textile production uses an estimated 43 million tons of chemicals every year, not including the pesticides used to grow natural resources such as cotton.

 

ABOUT GREEN AMERICA

Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems. http://www.GreenAmerica.org

MEDIA CONTACT: Max Karlin for Green America, (703) 276-3255, or mkarlin@hastingsgroup.com.