Most people don’t know the clothes hanging in their closets likely contain trees — some from forests that are thousands of years old. Every year over 150 million trees are cut down and disappear into the fashion supply chain that makes rayon and viscose fabrics. Many of those trees are from the world’s most vital Ancient and Endangered (A&E) forests. It doesn’t have to be that way.
International not-for-profit organisation Canopy has been working to change that, to shift the viscose supply chain so that it is free of fibre from these sacred and high-value forests – forests that are essential to biodiversity, fresh water access, and global climate stability.
Canopy has partnered with over 320 fashion brands, designers, and retailers – from Stella McCartney to H&M – through the CanopyStyle initiative, which sees these companies commit, through timelined and publicly posted sourcing policies, to keep Ancient and Endangered Forests out of their supply chain. After policies are complete, Canopy collaborates with brands by providing sourcing tools and expert advice, and implementation support to help bring Next Generation, A&E forest-free solutions to the market place.
Canopy works in many ways to conserve forests, like switching fibre sourcing from these areas through the use of recycled textiles, as well as fibres made from Next Generation Solutions such as agricultural waste. However, Canopy also recognises that virgin wood fibre does – and will continue to – play a role in the textile sector. For this reason, Canopy requires that its partners adopt a preference for FSC for the forest fibre they use. FSC provides the best assurance that forests outside of Ancient and Endangered Forests are managed in an ecologically responsible way, and that safeguards are in place to protect workers’ rights, Indigenous Peoples’ rights, and the rights of traditional communities. FSC continues to be an important tool for fashion brands and man-made cellulosic producers participating in the CanopyStyle initiative.
Canopy also works with companies that use forest products from a variety of sectors – printers, book and magazine publishers, and with the launch of Pack4Good in 2019, the ever-growing packaging market. The Pack4Good initiative now has over 100 brands committed to eliminating Ancient and Endangered forests from their paper packaging, increasing their use of recycled and alternative fibres. When virgin wood fibre does continue to be used in their packaging, they require FSC.
Canopy is showing that fashion can be Ancient and Endangered Forest free — from the fabrics the clothes are made from, to the boxes they’re shipped in, and FSC’s support is vital in making that transition.