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Victoria’s Secret vows to stop using chemicals in panties by 2020

Nadine Kalinauskas
Shine On
January 25, 2013

Count your lucky stars ladies, because the company that owns Victoria's Secret and La Senza is going chemical-free.

While this is likely good news for many, others might find it more enlightening: "Wait, there are chemicals in my underwear?!"

Independent testing from Greenpeace found hormone-disrupting phthalates in Victoria's Secret underwear. To address the criticism that stemmed from their Toxic Threads report, the lingerie super-brand Limited Brand has agreed to disclose data on its usage of hazardous chemicals by the end of the year.

Phthalates have been flagged as dangerous chemicals lurking in various household products including plastics, cosmetics and fragrances. In California, phthalates are banned from products intended for children under the age of 3. They've been banned in Denmark altogether.

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According to the Canadian Cancer Society, "There is...evidence that certain phthalates act as endocrine disruptors. This means they may mimic or behave like hormones and can interfere with the normal hormonal activity in our bodies. This can lead to physical abnormalities, fertility problems and certain types of cancer."

Greenpeace dubbed Victoria's Secret a "Detox villain," with “little or no policy or program for chemicals management, and no commitment to zero discharges.”

As while it's not clear what effect toxic phthalates in underwear might have on the wearer, the environmental-activism group is especially concerned about the effect of the chemicals on the water supply.

"It's not clear (or provable) that these chemicals harm the U.S. consumer who wears the clothing, but it is clear the the release of chemicals into the environment at the point of manufacture has a harmful effect on nearby communities," a Greenpeace representative tells Fashionista.

"The evidence doesn’t point to these chemicals getting into your skin,” emphasizes John Deans of Greenpeace. "We’re not saying that by putting on Victoria’s Secret lingerie you’re exposing yourself to a pollutant. It’s generally from the water sources or the water cycle. Both chemicals are polluting at the site of manufacturing, and shoppers and consumers are becoming unwitting accomplices in putting those pollutants into our waterways."

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It appears Limited Brands took that criticism to heart. Either that, or the heads of their PR representatives are spinning, because they issued this statement in response.

"Limited Brands considers clean water as a critical global issue, and is proud to join Greenpeace in its campaign to eliminate hazardous chemical use," says Sam Fried, executive vice president for law, policy & governance at Limited Brands.

Limited Brands promises to ditch all hazardous chemicals from its supply chain and products by 2020, making it the fourteenth company to commit to eliminating hazardous chemicals following Greenpeace's Detox campaign. Zara, Mango, Esprit and Levi's have already announced similar commitments.

While you're waiting for 2020 to come and provide us with nontoxic panties, will you seek out organic or phthalate-free undergarments?

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