Major Fashion Brands Partly To Blame For Deforestation Of Amazon Rainforest

New research suggests that more than 100 large fashion brands are at risk of contributing to deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, due to their connections to companies involved in the production of leather and leather goods.

The study, which was conducted by supply chain research firm Stand.earth, analyzed an estimated 500,000 rows of data and found that brands such as Coach, Prada, H&M, Zara, Adidas, Nike, New Balance, Ugg, Fendi, and more have multiple supply-chain links to an industry that increases Amazon deforestation.

Photo: Flickr/Sandra Cohen-Rose

Despite numerous brands announcing policies to remove themselves from contributing to deforestation, more than 50 of them are still linked to the largest Brazilian leather exporter, JBS, which is known to be partly responsible in Amazon deforestation. These companies are likely violating their own polices, and therefore the rate of deforestation is still increasing.

According to research, the cattle industry is the largest driver of Amazon deforestation, and the fashion industry has a lot to do with it. Projections show that in order to keep supplying consumers with leather goods such as purses and shoes, the fashion industry must slaughter 430 million cows each year by 2025.

Photo: Unsplash/Daniel Quiceno M

“If you’re wearing leather shoes, a leather belt or carrying a leather handbag, it’s highly likely that it was made from cowhide that contributed to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest,” Slow Factory wrote on their website.

While many companies pledge to stop having involvement with certain exporters by a certain year, Sonia Guajajara, executive coordinator of the Brazilian Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance, says they have “the moral responsibility, the influence and the economic resources” to stop working with these supplies today rather than years from now.

Photo: Unsplash/Deepal Tamang

“The Amazon rainforest is fast approaching the tipping point of irreversible ecosystem collapse, according to scientists,” Slow Factory wrote. “We’re calling on the world’s leading fashion brands to act immediately to protect the Amazon rainforest, its people, and our global climate future.”

With climate change and Amazon deforestation on the rise, it’s important that brands explore alternatives that are not so damaging to the environment.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Matt Zimmerman

Luckily, there are lab-grown alternatives on the rise, and other options that don’t come at the expense of the Amazon Rainforest.

“At the end of the day, we have to find other solutions and other alternative leathers that are not animal-based and that are not plastic-based,” Celine Semaan, chief executive and co-found of Slow Factory, told The Guardian. “With the resources that fashion companies have, there’s really no excuse.”

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