Did your purse help destroy the rainforest?

Examination of the link between fashion and deforestation in the Amazon increased in 2019, when images of rainforest fires that began clearing land for agriculture went viral. LVMH announced shortly after that it would donate more than $11 million to fight the fires in the Amazon, and H&M and VF Corporation, which owns Timberland and Vans, pledged to stop buying Brazilian leather unless that it is not linked to deforestation.

These brands were all named in the study, “Nowhere to Hide: How the Fashion Industry Is Linked to Amazon Rainforest Destruction,” by conservation-focused nonprofit Stand.Earth and its research arm, Stand. Research Group (SRG), which used the given customs to illustrate how leather flowed from the deforested Amazon. The report was released in November in collaboration with Slow Factory, a climate and cultural nonprofit, and Model Mafia, an activist collective.

SRG analyzed nearly 500,000 lines of Brazilian customs data cross-checked with import data collected from leather processors in countries such as China, Vietnam and Italy that supply companies such as LVMH, H&M, VF Corporation, Nike, Prada, Adidas, Tapestry (the owner of Coach) and Zara.

The SRG team sought to establish the brands’ links to deforestation by tracing exports through major leather suppliers in Brazil and referring to other research linking these suppliers to deforestation. According to the study, JBS, for example, the country’s largest beef and leather exporter, supplies leather processors and manufacturers who, in turn, supply Coach and others. In a statement sent to The Times, JBS said it “has zero tolerance for illegal deforestation” and has “blocked over 14,000 supplier farms for failing to meet our policies and standards.”

While the SRG report doesn’t prove your Coach bag is made from “contaminated leather” – SRG’s term for leather that contributes to deforestation – the more a brand has ties to companies that may be playing a role. in deforestation, the greater the risk, said Greg Higgs, lead researcher of the study.

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