“There is a lot of attention on the fashion industry’s impact on water and
climate, but more focus needs to be given to the role it is playing in declining biodiversity," says Addison

“There is a lot of attention on the fashion industry’s impact on water and climate, but more focus needs to be given to the role it is playing in declining biodiversity," says Addison

Environmental not-for-profit Canopy, in partnership with The Environmental Funders Network, conservation charity Synchronicity Earth, and The Sustainable Angle, has launched a series of events that aim to highlight the threat the fashion industry poses to ecosystems and species.

Due to take place in London over the course of the next six months, the 'Fabric of Life' series is designed to increase philanthropic focus on the environment and biodiversity.

"Alongside climate change, biodiversity needs to be at the forefront of the discussion when considering the future of our planet. We have to examine the role that major industries are playing, including technology, agriculture and fashion," says Jessica Sweidan, founding trustee at Synchronicity Earth.

"For me, the link between unsustainable fashion and the loss of biodiversity is the last orangutan in a clear-cut forest. Our insatiable thirst for buying more clothes more often is putting the Earth's most precious wild places at risk, pushing species towards extinction, destroying livelihoods and communities. Out of sight can no longer be out of mind. It's time to be honest with ourselves: our choices have an impact, and each individual has a role to play."

The production of clothing has already had a "devastating impact" on biodiversity around the world, says Synchronicity Earth, including:

  • The drying up of the Aral Sea in Central Asia, which was once the world's fourth largest lake.
  • It is estimated that 97% of the water in the Indus Delta in Pakistan goes towards producing crops like cotton.
  • Forests in Indonesia, Canada, the west coast of the US and the Brazilian Amazon are being logged for sourcing dissolving pulp for cellulosic fabric. In addition, the use of pulp for fabrics is forecast to double by 2050, according to Canopy, and is already threatening the survival of many species.

"There is a lot of attention on the fashion industry's impact on water and climate, but more focus needs to be given to the role it is playing in declining biodiversity," adds Prue Addison, conservation scientist and NERCscience Knowledge Exchange & Research fellow. "Whether it is pollution from farming cotton, invasive species such as Eucalyptus for rayon fabrics, or the harvesting of wild animals for fur, our natural environment is being eroded and weakened.

"Now is the time for businesses, including the fashion industry, to think seriously about how they can mitigate their impacts on biodiversity and contribute to global efforts to improve the status of biodiversity."