Clothing on a rack

Accountability in fashion

What do trees have to do with a sustainable fashion industry?

Have you been thinking about the companies you buy from and how you can hold them accountable for making responsible decisions for the planet?

Recent shifts in consumer behaviour indicate a growing emphasis on sustainability and ethical practices, with buyers increasingly favouring brands that prioritise environmental responsibility and social consciousness. You are probably hearing phrases like “corporate conduct” and “company-wide sustainable policy frameworks” buzzing around, and we want to let you in on how forest products can contribute to the social and environmental impact you are having when you purchase clothes.

Woman's hand reaching for clothing on a rack

So, what do trees have to do with it?

The environmental impact of the fashion industry is huge and is growing even larger with fast fashion. The production of textiles is hugely water intensive and produces a substantial amount of our global carbon emissions.

But there are opportunities to make change and address these issues now. The fashion industry is already using fabrics and materials that are derived from trees instead of harmful synthetics. There’s Rayon, Modal, and Tencel made from wood pulp. Through sustainable manufacturing practices, responsible forestry management, and responsible purchasing, we can make significant and measurable change in the fashion industry.

Let’s talk about what a certified forest is

Forest certification is a process through which forests (and the products we get from them) are independently verified to meet specific environmental, social, and economic sustainability standards.

Certification bodies, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), ensure that forests are managed responsibly. They take into consideration factors like biodiversity conservation, community welfare, and ethical logging practices.

These certification bodies send out real people to review and assess the processes companies implement to obtain and produce forest products. They audit the supply chain and ensure accountability and transparency across the entire chain.

Woman holding white shirt against her body

Conservation of the environment

Buying clothes made from certified wood-based materials ensures that the wood and fibre used in production comes from sustainably managed forests. This helps in preserving biodiversity, protecting environments, and mitigating deforestation. Both FSC and PEFC certifications consider the health and management of forest ecosystems in their programs.

Forest certification often aligns with or even exceeds legal requirements related to environmental protection and responsible sourcing. In Australia, we have some of the most stringent certification requirements in the world. Adhering to these certifications standards ensures that brands comply with regulations and are walking more of the talk when it comes to corporate social responsibility.

Clothing on rack

Getting materials from responsible sources - Transparency of the supply chain

How do these certification programs relate to your clothes? They provide you with a guarantee that the raw materials used in the clothing you buy are sourced responsibly and ethically.

And it’s not just the fabric you have to think about in the world of fashion. Garment tags, shopping bags, and even the packaging your items ship in can all come from forest products.

Certification programs help improve transparency in the fashion supply chain. Brands can trace the origin of their raw materials back to certified forests. This means the brands you support can demonstrate a commitment to transparency and accountability when it comes to climate conscious choices.

The certification bodies are global as well. Whether the material is coming from Queensland or Europe, you can rely on these labels for reassurance that the forest your fibre came from is looked after.

Two people packing clothing into shopping bags

Brand reputation and accountability – what are the social and economic benefits of sustainable materials?

Brands that prioritize sustainability and responsible sourcing through forest certification are doing more of their part in the actions we must take globally to address our changing climate. Every industry across the planet must rethink the ways they operate.

The benefits of making the change to more sustainable practices and materials can lead to increased customer loyalty, positive media coverage, and a competitive edge in the market. So, doesn’t it only make sense for these brands to align with their customer’s morals and in turn build a more positive brand image?

Availability for the long term

Sustainable forest management practices promoted by certification programs also help ensure the long-term availability of wood and fibre resources. This is crucial for the fashion industry, which relies heavily and increasingly on natural materials.

Choosing materials and fabrics that come from sustainably managed forests means making the choice to look after our forests for the long term so that trees can be replanted and regrown over and over again.

Woman in fashionable pastel dress looking in mirror

Consumer demand for sustainability – The power of your purchases

Like we said, modern consumers are increasingly conscious of environmental and social issues. And many prefer products that are considerate of our environment and are produced with ethical sourcing in mind. Forest certification helps fashion brands meet these consumer expectations and give the buyer something to align with and feel good about.

Forest certification directly addresses the shifts we are seeing in behaviour towards sustainable materials and socially responsible practices. Choosing materials from certified sustainable forests means that labels are putting in the effort to meet their customer expectations and align with their personal ethics and principles.

Why wouldn’t brands want to be good to their customers and to the planet? Will you think differently about shopping now and which brands you are loyal to?

Check out this video from the UN FAO and Michelle Yeoh. 

“Fashion out of forests is possible and sustainable…”

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