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Water Wednesday: Greenpeace challenges apparel industry to come clean

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Water Wednesday: Greenpeace challenges sports apparel industry to come clean; Federal agencies forge deal to improve drinking water

Contributor’s Note: This is an ongoing column in water sustainability, consumption and management issues. The rationale is simple: water is a more urgent priority for corporate social responsibility programs and becoming more so every day.

Greenpeace urges sports apparel makers to take a stand on water, chemicals management
In case you were thinking that Greenpeace was losing its edge or something, the organization's latest industry-focused sustainability campaign centers on what it describes as "toxic" water management practices used by Chinese facilities that are part of the production process for a number of well-known brands.

The "Detox" campaign centers in particular on Adidas, Nike and PUMA, which it is urging to take a stand by declaring chemicals and water management strategies -- strategies that would trickle down to its suppliers. In fact, PUMA has already responded with a strategy statement and a pledge to divulge more details within approximately two months' times.

Greenpeace is using a new report called "Dirty Laundry," as the prod to take action. That report points to two Chinese facilities in particular that the organization believes is discharging "hormone-disrupting" chemicals into Chinese rivers. Aside from the brands already mentioned, the facilities have been linked in some ways to these other international brands (although Greenpeace stops short of saying which brand shares the blame): Abercrombie & Fitch, Bauer Hockey, Calvin Klein, Converse, Cortefiel, H&M, Lacoste and Phillips-Van Heusen.

Yep, all the brands that any hip teenager would want to wear. Which kind of explains the publicity tack that Greenpeace is taking with this campaign video:

Greenpeace notes:

"Regardless of what they use these facilities for, none of the brands found to have commercial links with these two facilities have in place comprehensive chemicals management policies that would allow them to have a complete overview of the hazardous chemicals used and released across their entire supply chain, and to act on this information."

PUMA is working on it, however, and we should hear more details in approximately two months.

Rural water districts are focus of new EPA, USDA partnership
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have signed a five-year national partnership that is aimed at improving rural water systems.

The rationale is this: more than 97 percent of the 160,000 public water systems in the United States serve less than 10,000 people; 78 percent of the wastewater facilities manage more than 1 million gallons per day. The management challenges around these systems are becoming more acute, so the EPA and USDA are looking to provide federal resources to help encourage innovation as well as training that will keep these systems running well into the future.

Among other things, the program will provide loan and grants aimed at supporting infrastructure investments and better management structure around these systems. The relationship builds on a previous alliance formed in 2002. The focus will be communities with fewer than 10,000 residents.

Past Water Wednesday posts:

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure