Most people don’t know that there might be fabrics hanging in their closets made from trees, perhaps from forests where endangered animals like orangutans live. Popular, wearable fabrics like rayon, viscose and modal are made from fibre from trees. Canopy has calculated that over 150 million trees are logged and turned into fabric every year. If placed end to end, these trees would circle our earth’s equator seven times over.
Fashion’s footprint on forests encroaches on pristine forest landscapes like Indonesia’s awe-inspiring Leuser Ecosystem, the last place on Earth where you can still find orangutans, elephants, tigers and rhinos living in one place. Canada’s Boreal forest, another landscape under threat, is home to vast forest ecosystems that still haven’t been logged, acting as a green carbon storehouse that is vital to climate stability. The Boreal is home to iconic animals like the woodland caribou and the solitary wolverine. Loss of our last remaining intact forest landscapes is an issue that touches everyone, from the Indigenous communities who are experiencing the impacts of deforestation and illegal logging on their ancestral lands, to habitat loss for endangered animals, right down to the air that you and I breathe and the climate stability that regulates our food production. It’s a big problem that requires big solutions.
That’s why Canopy collaborates with forward-thinking fashion brands including Stella McCartney, Levi’s, M&S, Patagonia, and H&M, committed to eliminating Ancient and Endangered Forests from their fabric supply chain and working towards exciting new solutions.
These companies are part of a cadre of 200+ global fashion and apparel brands that make up the CanopyStyle initiative. We provide tools and information to help them keep ancient forests out of their garments. Together, we also work toward long-term sourcing solutions. Innovation exists to make these same fabrics by replacing wood fibre with old or unusable clothes, either pre- or post-consumer, instead. Leftover wheat straw, that is all too often burned or landfilled after the harvest of agricultural crops, is also an option for replacing forests as a feedstock for fabric and textiles. Canopy has reports, information on innovators, and a vision for a green future for viscose, all available to be read.
What can you do to help protect the world’s Ancient and Endangered Forests? Follow Canopy on social media (@Canopyplanet) or sign up for our newsletter for updates on the initiative. Check our list of partners to see if your favourite brands are part of CanopyStyle, and if you don’t see them on our list, ask your preferred brands to sign on! Seek our retailers that specialize in earth-friendly fashion. And be on the lookout for Next Generation (recycled or made from agricultural leftovers) viscose fabrics, you’ll be seeing more and more in the coming years. (Looking for recycled or reusable packaging and paper options is also the forest-friendly thing to do.) Together, we can make sure that fashion doesn’t have to cost the Earth, and do our own parts to protect the world’s forests.