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Major fashion brands vow to eliminate endangered forests from their fabrics

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Image: Forest via Pexels

Global environmental non-profit Canopy has confirmed 515 of the world’s leading fashion designers and apparel brands are committed to keeping products from vital forests out of their fabric supply chains and sourcing low-carbon production alternatives.

The collective commitment comes from a group of industry heavyweights with far reaching tentacles, collectively accounting for 857 billion dollars in annual revenue.

Canopy announced the latest brands to join members like Stella McCartney, H&M, Zara, PVH, Kering, and Walmart in signing onto CanopyStyle, a solutions-driven initiative helping fashion brands, retailers, designers, and viscose producers keep Ancient and Endangered Forests out of their supply chains. The newest signatories include John Lewis & Partners, Wax London, Everlane, L'Estrange, Rachel Comey, BAM Clothing, Nique, Grain de Malice, and BN3TH.

Fashion has a responsibility to save biodiversity

In a statement Canopy said the brands will ensure their products do not rely on the world’s most vital and biodiverse ecosystems, have committed to investing in the design and use of low-carbon, low-impact Next Generation alternatives such as recycled textiles to cutting down forests. The majority of brands signing on today have also joined Pack4Good, Canopy’s parallel initiative that helps companies shift their paper packaging to be more sustainable.

"We are proud to celebrate the remarkable progress being made by the more than 500-brand-strong CanopyStyle collective,” said Nicole Rycroft, Canopy’s Executive Director. “Together, we have shifted almost half of viscose production out of sourcing from endangered forests, secured conservation gains, and spurred production of low-carbon Next Gen textiles. The job isn’t done yet: in this turnaround decade, we are redoubling efforts to keep Ancient and Endangered Forests standing, scaling commercial production of circular alternatives, and moving the needle on climate action."

"John Lewis & Partners is honoured to be part of the CanopyStyle 500, and to be joining an initiative that has had such a tremendous impact in a short period of time,” said Marija Rompani, Director of Ethics & Sustainability. “We recently launched the John Lewis Partnership's Plan for Nature which highlights our commitment to protect and restore nature. Initiatives such as this showcase our dedication to conserving forests for our planet’s climate and biodiversity. CanopyStyle is a brilliant addition to our sustainability work, and we look forward to our collaboration."

When CanopyStyle began there was little knowledge of the hundreds of millions of trees being cut down every year for fabrics like rayon and viscose. To date, the CanopyStyle initiative has secured 50 percent of global viscose production as being at low-risk of originating from Ancient and Endangered Forests. It has also spurred the transition to low-impact Next Gen textiles — including work with the world’s first pulp mill that will rely only on waste textiles as its feedstock, and small volumes of viscose made with circular waste textiles by four of the world’s largest MMCF producers.

Why designers must look for alternative production and sourcing methods

The use of trees to make fabrics has more than doubled over the past 30 years, and is projected to grow by another 50-60 percent within the next decade. This demand continues to threaten rare, ancient forests even though less than 20 percent of these vital ecosystems remain intact globally.

Forests are a major part of the climate solution because they are carbon storing powerhouses. They are also home to the vast majority of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. If the fashion industry continues to work successfully together to end deforestation and forest degradation in supply chains, its impact would avoid forest carbon loss equivalent to eliminating the entire national emissions of a country like Switzerland, Guatemala, or Denmark.

Stella McCartney
Sustainable Fashion