Designer Eileen Fisher, apparel companies Quiksilver, Prana, Patagonia, Lululemon Athletica and other global clothing brands with revenues totaling more than $4 billion have partnered with environmental organization Canopy to develop purchasing policies that aim to end the use of endangered forest fiber.
The companies along with 14 eco-designers are working to craft forest-friendly purchasing policies that track which forests their rayon and viscose fabrics are from. The group also will work to eliminate controversial forest fiber from their supply chains.
Tropical rainforests in Indonesia and northern boreal forests are increasingly being cut down and pulped to make fabrics like rayon and viscose, Canopy says. The forest conservation organization has documented fiber from rare forests turning up in suit jacket linings, dresses and skirts, T-shirts and tank tops. Last year, an estimated 70 million trees were cut for fabric production and it’s projected to double in the next 20 years, Canopy says.
Lead companies Patagonia, Prana, Quiksilver and Lululemon have already outlined general sustainable supply chain goals for their materials. The companies also have committed to work with Canopy to raise awareness of the link between fashion and forest conservation.
For example, Lululemon has pledged to assess its existing use of forest-sourced fabrics and develop a plan by December 2014 that will promote the use of fabrics from responsibly managed sources such as Forest Stewardship Council certified forests. The company also has pledged to ensure it is sourcing fabrics outside of ancient forests by 2017, work with vendors to change practices and encourage the development of alternate fiber sources such as agricultural residues and recycled fabrics.
Greenpeace International released a progress report earlier this week on Asia Pulp and Paper Group’s pledge to end the clearing of natural forests. The environmental activist group, a long-time critic of APP, is cautiously optimistic and warns that the company’s commitments are likely to stand or fall by the quality of conservation and management recommendations to the company’s senior management.