But did you realise that fabric production is the cause of a significant percentage of the disappearing forests? Rayon, viscose and modal are all basically woodpulp that's been chemically treated and turned into cellulose fibre. Non-profit organisation Canopy has estimated that 100 million trees are lost every year to fabric production. While this fabric is technically recoverable from landfill, once blended with other fibres or decorated, that biodegradability is lost.
When you factor in the environmental damage that occurs as a byproduct of deforestation, or the fact that Indonesia's logging activities have made it the world's third most-polluting nation thanks to carbon debt, it's clear that something needs to be done. Forests are not as renewable as commonly thought, and it can take decades for virgin forest to be replaced once it's been clear-cut.
Fortunately, some big fashion names are taking action. Inditex, home to brands like Zara, along with H&M, Stella McCartney and Quiksilver have all pledged to halt the use of cellulose fibre in their products under a strict three-year turnaround. By 2017, they plan to replace tree fibre use with recycled fabrics, non-wood alternatives, and organic and socially sustainable cottons. Their pledges won't just ease the carbon release caused by deforestation: it'll also protect the fragile habitats of some of the world's most vulnerable animals, and the homes of indigenous tribes.
It's good to see positive and decisive action to slow a worrying trend, but there's still a long way to go, and other big names could help the cause. Nicole Rycroft of Canopy says:
"To help prevent the projected expansion of logging for textiles, clothing brands need to be on board. Once apparel industry leaders start refusing to source from endangered forests, their suppliers will be motivated to find better, more sustainable, alternatives."6% of all fibre comes from cellulose sources, and a shift away from use of these fabrics can only be A Good Thing. It's important to let the big names know that logging is not the only way. Let's start off by signing the Canopy-Style Pledge, and let the forests grow in peace.
The Canopy-Style Pledge: http://www.canopystyle.org/pledge/