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After Patagonia’s announcement to offer certified fair trade apparel next year in Support of their workers, they have now made another step to Support the world as well.  Patagonia, along with EILEEN FISHER, Quiksilver, prAna, and lululemon athletica have all joined with the environmental organization Canopy to protect the rainforest from the fashion industry. According to Environmental Leader, these companies and 14 eco-designers plan on creating forest-friendly purchasing policies while also working to eliminate controversial forest fiber from their products.

The fashion industry’s unseen assault on the rainforest was first discovered by Canopy. Canopy observed that an increasing area of rainforest in Indonesia was being cut down for the production of fabrics. In 2012 alone, 70 million trees were cut down to create fabrics like rayon and viscose for the industry. These fabrics are used in dresses and skirts, tank tops, t-shirts and suit jacket linings.

Amy Hall, director of social consciousness, told WSAV3, “The current role of fashion in forest depletion is alarming but we know designers and leading fashion houses can make a difference.  Working with Canopy to address our use of forest fiber, develop mechanisms to ensure our fabrics are free of endangered forests and to craft long-term solutions for sustainable fabric sourcing are the first steps in turning the tide for the world’s rare forests.”

Although this announcement is a huge step in protecting rainforests across the globe from the ever increasing demands of the fashion industry, it is not the first step against deforestation from fashion.

In January 2012, Mongabay reported that Levi Strauss & Company issued a new policy to exclude any forest fiber from their supplies that came from a controversial source. Levi did this in order to encourage pulp and paper companies across the globe to only offer products from sustainable and managed rainforests and to prevent unnecessary deforestation of unmanaged rainforests.

While Levi’s decision was groundbreaking, the new combined effort by Canopy and the Apparel companies will go beyond just encouraging sustainable foresting. N

icole Rycroft, canopy executive director, commends these leaders of the fashion industry telling WSAV3, “Their actions are settling a new bar for sustainability within the sector and inspiring other large global players. That’s good news for the world’s forests, species, and climate. And for those of us who love both fashion and our planet, we can finally wear our green heart on our sleeve.”

These companies are showing that the fashion industry and the environment are not on opposite ends of a spectrum. One does not have to suffer for the other to prosper. Like in nature, it is all about a balance and this new initiative is a step in the right direction to find balance among the fashion industry and the world’s rainforests!

Image Source: Disco-Dan/Flickr