From: Nicole Rycroft, The Ecologist, More from this Affiliate
Published December 3, 2013 09:36 AM

Orangutan as fashionista

"Do you have these pants in black?" a question generally heard from the changing rooms of clothing retailers. However over the coming months more of the queries that you'll hear echoing in boutiques and malls will be, "Is this shirt made from Orangutan or Caribou habitat?" Canopy, an environmental not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting the world's forests, species and climate recently launched a campaign to ensure endangered forests do not end up in clothing. Rayon, viscose and modal fabrics are made from pulped trees. Canopy is raising awareness that much of today's fast fashion and haute couture comes at a cost to the forests we love.

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Fashionistas are watching to see which designers and apparel brands join EILEEN FISHER, Quiksilver, lululemon athletica and the other CanopyStyle early champions that have committed to eliminate endangered forests from their fabrics.

In addition to phasing out controversial forest-fibre, these companies are looking to shift to alternatives like recycled rayon, organic and socially sustainable cottons and, where tree fibre is used, eco-certified Forest Stewardship Council forests. They've got class.

In the national language of Indonesia, "orang" means person, "human" means forest. One of humanity's closest relatives, Orangutans are literally "the people of the forest".

These beautiful orange creatures with soulful eyes share 97 percent of their DNA with humans. They spend their lives in the forest canopy, traveling through the tree tops, nurturing their young and sleeping in the embrace of the branches.

They are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as critically endangered and may be the first of the great apes to go extinct within our lifetimes. And one of the major causes of their demise is likely hanging in your closet ...

Follow the Thread Back to the Forest

Canopy has been following the fashion thread from boutiques and retailers across the UK and North America, to the factories of South East Asia, the pulp mills in China and Canada that crank out cellulosic fibre, all the way back to the forests of origin. What our research has uncovered is shocking.

From the expanse of our Boreal Forests of Canada to the vanishing tropical rainforests of Indonesia and the towering 1,000 year-old cedars of North America's Coastal Temperate Rainforest, the world's forests are being mowed down at an alarming rate to produce fabric.

As many as 100 million trees a year are going into the manufacture of pulp for fabric and that number is on the rise. Put end to end, those trees would circle the equator 10 times.

Read more at ENN affiliate, the Ecologist and Canopy.

Orangutan and shopper images via Shutterstock. Morphed by Robin Blackstone.

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