Fighting Deforestation with Sustainable Fashion

Fighting Deforestation with Sustainable Fashion

Queen’s sustainability week is back in Kingston, and we are thrilled to partner with them this year to discuss the damaging effects of deforestation in the fast fashion industry, and to highlight some of the ways that we work to subvert this reality. At Oak & Fir, we aim to foster a community of sustainable and ethical shoppers, creating a space where individuals can make mindful shopping choices.

Unfortunately, the fast fashion industry has had a significant impact on the environment, most often shamed for its vast amount of textile waste and frequent clothing production. While many brands claim they will reduce this waste and slow it down, there are still many aspects of fast fashion’s negative environmental footprint - one of which is mass deforestation.

While it may seem as though deforestation does not align with the fashion industry, these worlds intersect in numerous ways. In one example, fabrics that are made of cellulosic fibers, such as viscose and rayon, are prominently made from wood pulp. While this fabric had initially been considered more sustainable than plastic-based fibers such as acrylic or polyester, the recent demand for this pulp in fast fashion cycles has resulted in mass deforestation efforts, reducing the biodiversity of many forests and ecosystems. 

In another research article by Anthesis and Canopy (a non-profit dedicated to stopping deforestation), they note that the demand for leather products has also had a significant impact. There has been an increased demand to create space for these cattle pastures, clearing large swaths of land in the process. As consumers, our shopping choices may contribute to reversing these deforestation effects, or at the very least may help to slow it down, but we’d like to see more brands making significant changes to adjust their business protocols or implement ways to support reforestation practices.

Motivated by a desire to reverse the damaging effects of the fashion industry, our small business aims to counter deforestation – to slow it down and rebuild ecosystems by planting trees. We are thrilled to have partnered with One Tree Planted, a non-profit dedicated to global reforestation initiatives that also aim to raise awareness about the importance of trees, offer businesses like ours a simple sustainability solution, and motivate younger generations to do something positive for the environment. With our partnership with this company, we are able to plant 1 tree for every older sold at Oak & Fir!  

While the aspect of planting trees helps to contribute to these reforestation efforts, One Tree Planted states that they are accompanied by several additional benefits such as cleaning the air we breathe, filtering the water we drink, and providing habitat to over 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Planting trees across North America, Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe, we work to create a sustainable shopping solution that not only rejects fast fashion’s reliance on mass deforestation practices but contributes to a solution for a greener future.

We hope this blog post encourages you to be a mindful shopper, to resist the fast fashion economy by being part of the solution to slow it down and to consider sustainability in many avenues of your life. From our team at Oak & Fir, we hope you enjoy the rest of Queen’s Sustainability Week!  

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