Looking good doesn’t have to ruin the environment.
That’s the message of a new video featuring fashion designer Stella McCartney, who's partnering with environmental nonprofit Canopy to push clothing companies to stop sourcing fabric from ancient and endangered forests.
The video, which dropped this week, explains how producing fabrics like viscose and rayon, which is made from wood pulp, pose a serious threat to ancient forests across the globe. And it describes how major fashion brands and designers, like McCartney, are working with Canopy to stop sourcing materials from imperiled woodlands.
When we think about fabric, we tend to think cotton, wool, polyester. But ballooning cotton prices have caused wood-based fabrics to make a comeback. That’s a problem, environmental groups say, because around 30 percent of the rayon used in clothing comes from ancient or endangered forests.
“These man-made cellulosic fabrics like rayon, viscose and lyocell, are created from trees cut down exclusively to feed dissolving pulp mills," Nicole Rycroft, founder and executive director of Canopy, told The Guardian in 2014.
The result? "Ancient and endangered rainforests are being logged, pulped and turned into T-shirts, dresses and suit linings,” she said.
Each year, suppliers grind up roughly 100 million trees, often culled from ancient and endangered forests, to produce wood-based fabrics, according to Canopy. That number could double in the next 10 years, the group says.
CanopyStyle, a subset of Canopy which launched in 2013, works with clothing brands, designers and retailers, including H&M and Zara, to remove trees harvested from endangered forests from their supply chains. Thanks to their work, producers responsible for more than 75 percent of the global rayon production have committed to protecting endangered forests, according to a press release from the group.
McCartney, who’s partnered with Canopy since 2014, has championed environmental causes throughout her career. McCartney says she became concerned about the impact of fashion on ancient forests after finding out how many trees are felled each year to produce clothes.
“When Canopy approached me, I did not hesitate be part of the solution,” McCartney says in the video. “We’ve all got to come together and we’ve got to protect what’s left of our ancient forests on this planet.”
Check out the full video above.