Industry giants are taking action to trace their wood pulp sources to avoid procuring from regions that contribute to rainforest destruction or violate the rights of local communities.
Several prominent fashion companies are taking a positive step toward environmental conservation and protection of human rights.
US-based apparel behemoth Ralph Lauren and L Brands, parent company of lingerie specialist Victoria's Secret, have pledged recently to trace the sources of wood pulp used in their releases to avoid procuring from regions that contribute to rainforest destruction or violate the rights of indigenous people. This comes as rising cotton prices are pushing up demand for wood-based alternatives such as rayon, modal and viscose.
The companies are the latest additions to the growing number of fashion brands supporting Rainforest Action Network's (RAN) "Out of Fashion" campaign. The organization helped develop sourcing policies Ralph Lauren and L Brands. The endeavor requires companies to investigate their supply networks and cease working with sources from the most destructive regions by the end of the year.
Fashion brands H&M, Zara, ASOS, Levi Strauss & Co. and UK-based designer Stella McCartney have adopted similar policies. Last year, Stella McCartney partnered with Canada-based international environmental nonprofit group Canopy to encourage clothing companies to stop sourcing fabrics produced from ancient and endangered forests.
According to RAN, wood pulp production can involve clearing forests to build eucalyptus plantations and taking land traditionally used by indigenous communities. The issue is particularly a threat in Indonesia, a major producer of wood pulp and the world's largest producer of palm oil. Online forest monitoring website Global Forest Watch estimates that the Southeast Asia nation lost up to 18.5 million hectares of forest cover from 2001 to 2014.