Allbirds and Reformation, two of sustainable fashion’s buzziest brands, are making it part of their mission to eliminate endangered and old-growth forests from their clothing.
On Tuesday, the labels joined 170 businesses—Abercrombie & Fitch, H&M, Patagonia, Stella McCartney and VF Corp. among them—in throwing their support behind CanopyStyle, an initiative by Canadian forestry not-for-profit Canopy to keep deforestation out of viscose textiles.
More than 150 million trees are logged annually and pulped to produce viscose and other cellulosic fibers, Canopy estimates. To satisfy the demand for dissolving pulp, which is projected to increase by 122 percent over the next 40 years, the organization avers that the viscose industry’s impact on forest ecosystems will only become increasingly fraught.
Canopy also welcomed into its fold this week biotechnology startups Nanollose, which creates tree-free viscose using coconut waste, and Tyton BioSciences, a Virginia-based firm that transforms used clothing into good-as-virgin materials.
“By transforming waste into rayon/viscose fiber, we are now able to repurpose what was considered unusable just a few years ago,” Alfie Germano, CEO of Nanollose, said in a statement. “Through CanopyStyle and the support of its brands and associates, development of these next-generation solutions is leading the way to a world that consumes less resources along with pioneering new sustainable alternatives that ultimately contribute to the protection of forests, species and the climate.”
All Canopy partners have committed to phase out their use of ancient and endangered forests while promoting conversation solutions in “landscapes of hope” such as Sumatra’s Leuser Ecosystem, the rainforests of Vancouver and the Broadback Forest in the Canadian Boreal, the organization said.
Through its work with producers and other industry stakeholders, Canopy said companies representing 52 percent of the global viscose supply have completed the CanopyStyle audit process, which assesses supply chain risk, recommends measures to reduce impacts on forests and tracks corporate progress on fiber innovations. In November, Canopy launched a free online tool, known as ForestMapper, to help pulp- and lumber-sourcing businesses identify—and therefore avoid—endangered and old-growth hotspots around the world.
“It is with great pleasure that we welcome these new brands to the CanopyStyle family,” said Nicole Rycroft, founder and executive director of Canopy. “Today, many small companies are developing next generation fabrics with technologies that will reuse, reduce or recycle what is now landfilled, burned or ignored as waste. The growing demand and support of 170 global brands is another promising sign that these alternative fibers will be at commercial scale production in the foreseeable future.”