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H&M, Zara Back Sustainable Sourcing Campaign

Retail’s largest brands, H&M and Inditex-owned Zara, have pledged to stop using ancient and endangered forests to make rayon and viscose clothing.

The retailers have partnered with environmental organization Canopy in a new initiative called, “Fashion Loved by Forest,” designed to address the increasing impact of the clothing industry on the world’s forests, biodiversity and climate.

Canopy’s research has shown that rayon, viscose and modal are increasingly made from the most endangered forests. According to a company statement, “Globally rare forests are cut down, pulped and spun into suit jacket linings, dresses, skirts, t-shirts and tank tops. The dissolving pulp/viscose industry is poised for continued ambitious expansion and poses an increasing risk to threatened forest ecosystems around the world.”

In 2013, an estimated 70 million trees were cut for fabric production and that number is expected to double in the next twenty years.

Zara and H&M will join sustainability brand Loomstate, EILEEN FISHER, Quicksilver and seventeen other retailers and designers in backing the initiative to target supply-chain transparency specific to forest fabric sourcing. The group will work to avoid sourcing fiber from forests in trouble and, as Canopy hopes, send a message to the logging and pulp sectors that what the market wants is changing.

H&M environmental sustainability manager Henrik Lampa said, “H&M wants to play a strong role in ensuring a future for the planet’s ancient and endangered forests. We are fully committed to exploring our supply chain and doing our utmost to avoid these fabrics within the next three years.” He added, “Working with Canopy, we are excited to take the additional step of encouraging leaders throughout the supply chain to support conservation in endangered forests and use alternative inputs, for example recycled clothing, so our actions create lasting change.”

Much of H&M’s last couple of years has been spent on making the brand more sustainable. So far, the retailer has introduced two eco-conscious clothing lines, Conscious and Conscious Exclusive, which incorporate sustainable materials like organic cotton and hemp. They’ve also launched a recycled denim line, and incorporated an eco-conscious care label that reminds consumers to be environmentally friendly.

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Canopy’s executive director Nicole Rycroft said, “These clothing sector leaders are showing that being stylish doesn’t have to cost the earth.” She added, “Canopy is excited to see two of the largest brands, both major trendsetters, stepping up to ensure fabrics are no longer sourced from the world’s endangered forests.”