How Fashion and Athletic Firms Are Helping Battle the Raging Amazon Wildfires

Wildfires continue to spread through large swaths of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, while world leaders, environmental activists and even high-profile celebrities raise the alarm and make donations in an effort to help contain the damage to surrounding eco-regions.

Members of the fashion and athletic industries have also joined the mix, from offering millions to support the dispatch of water bombers to rethinking leather sourcing — particularly as demand for the material has led to an attempt to clear the land for cattle ranches, which is widely suspected to be the cause of the devastating blaze. (According to Yale University’s Global Forest Atlas, cattle ranching accounts for nearly 80% of the Amazon’s deforestation.)

Here’s how some firms are stepping in.

H&M

The fast-fashion retailer announced that it was suspending leather purchases from Brazil over environmental concerns in the Amazon. In a statement, H&M wrote that “due to the severe fires in the Brazilian part of the Amazon rain forest and the connections to cattle production, we have decided to place a temporary ban on leather from Brazil.” The boycott would remain in effect until the Sweden-based company finds “credible assurance systems” to ensure that cattle production is not behind the raging fires.

Allbirds

In a partnership with Jaden Smith’s eco-friendly company, Just, the beloved sneaker brand developed two limited-edition iterations of its famed Tree Runner and Tree Topper silhouettes that make use of natural materials, including Brazilian sugarcane. Notably, 100% of the proceeds from the collection will be donated to investor, actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio’s Amazon Forest Fund, which has already committed $5 million to combating the fires. “As we prepared to launch this collaboration, it became clear that both our brands had a duty to do what we could to help the ongoing crisis in the Brazilian Amazon,” Allbirds co-founder and co-CEO Tim Brown told FN.

VF Corp.

The footwear manufacturer — whose brands include Vans, The North Face and Timberland — became one of the first major corporations to enter the conversation, announcing in a statement that it would no longer buy Brazilian leather in response to the blaze. On Aug. 29, VF spokesperson Molly Cuffe wrote that the Greensboro, N.C.-based company’s decision to resume its purchase from Brazil-based suppliers would come only after it has “the confidence and assurance that the materials used in our products do not contribute to environmental harm in the country.” The company did not name another import source to take the place of Brazilian leathers and hides.

LVMH

CEO Bernard Arnault and board member Yann Arthus-Bertrand said the luxury fashion conglomerate would contribute 10 million euros to back the initiative introduced by France’s President Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit. As part of the “collective effort,” the funds would be directed toward a fleet of fire-fighting Canadair planes. “Protecting the environment is not just about words and speeches or signing declarations of principle, it also requires taking concrete collective actions when dangers arise in order to provide resources for local specialists and working together to save our planet,” said Arthus-Bertrand.

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