STYLE

What Is Rainforest-Free Sustainable Fashion? Everything You Need To Know

Save the 🌳, save the 🌎.

20/03/2017 16:52 GMT

Would you believe us if we told you that your current outfit may contain trees from the rainforest? Maybe the Amazon.

Possibly from one of Indonesia’s rainforests. 

That’s right. The aged trees that make up part of the ‘world’s lungs’ and provide a habitat to millions of species are being chopped down to make clothing. 

But now the concept of rainforest-free clothing has entered the fashion vernacular and brands are getting on board with this sustainable fashion trend. 

As companies start to make real adjustments to their manufacturing processes, we’ve delved a bit deeper into everything you need to know about rainforest-free clothing. 

Catwalking / Getty Images
Models walk the runway at the Stella McCartney Autumn Winter 2017 fashion show during Paris Fashion Week on 6 March 2017 in Paris, France. The brand is rainforest-free. 

So, what exactly is rainforest-free clothing?

According to Racked, “this year, 120 million trees will be transformed into the shirts on our backs. As many as 40 % of them will be harvested from sensitive, old-growth ecosystems”

That’s a whole lot of trees - and oxygen. 

From rayon and modal to viscose, a lot of clothing contains cellulose-based materials, which are obtained from the bark, wood or leaves of plants and give your garments that silky, smooth drape. 

But initiatives like Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Canopy are pushing for change by asking companies to re-evaluate their manufacturing process and eliminate the use of trees from sensitive ecosystems. 

Which brands have already gone rainforest-free? 

In February this year, apparel conglomerate VF, pledged to create its own rainforest-free plan. With over 30 brands - such as Wrangler, Lee and Timberland - that’s a lot of tree-free clothing. 

In total, 96 brands have promised to make the change. Among them are Ralph Lauren, Victoria’s Secret, H&M, Zara and more, who have all signed the CanopyStyle campaign - a pledge that aims to remove all rainforest-harvested cellulose from brands’ supply chains by the end of this year. 

Why is Stella McCartney a leading light? 

Stella McCartney has always been an advocate for sustainability. Since her brand’s inception, she has actively championed changing the current fashion system to move to animal-free fabrics and better practices for the planet.

McCartney has recently also joined the rainforest-free campaign. Now sourcing everything from a certified forest in Sweden for her fashion line, with the extraction process happening in certified mills around Europe. 

What should consumers be looking out for? 

Right now, brands don’t label their clothing as being rainforest-free. But, Canopy are working on changing that and for the time being you can check their website for the full list of brands that have signed up. 

One step at a time. 

Reading clothing labels before purchasing is always a good idea and avoid rayon, modal and viscose if you aren’t sure where they’ve been sourced from.