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Amazon Rainforest fire
courtesy of Instagram/@earthalliance

H&M stops buying leather from Brazil because of the Amazon fires

Amid global outcry concerning the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, fast-fashion retailer H&M is taking a stand

Over the course of the last few years, the fashion industry has found itself scrutinised over its impact on the planet and the ways in which it contributes to the climate emergency we are currently facing. As the world literally burns before our eyes, conversations surrounding what can be done and where responsibility lies are becoming more and more prevalent, with the industry the most public institution to be held accountable so far (large oil companies soon come).  

Thankfully, a number of brands are finally stepping up. Last month, 32 fashion companies signed the Fashion Pact, while focus among emerging brands has shifted dramatically towards sustainability. Now, H&M has responded to the fires engulfing the Amazon rainforest right now by announcing it will no longer use leather from the region, albeit temporarily. 

“Due to the severe fires in the Brazilian part of the Amazon rainforest and the connections to cattle production, we have decided to place a temporary ban on leather from Brazil. The ban will be active until there are credible assurance systems in place to verify that the leather does not contribute to environmental harm in the Amazon,” says the statement.

News of the Amazonian rainforest fires caused a global outcry this summer, with H&M the latest in a list of companies taking a public stand. Labels including The North Face and Vans also declared a temporary ban on leather purchases from the South American country, until its suppliers could prove they were not connected to any environmental harm. 

Nearly 50,000 fires have been detected in the rainforest this year, the highest in a decade. Although fires happen annually during the dry season, the recent spike happens to coincide with new policies from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. And, despite the link between exported leather and deforestation being unclear, researchers have connected much of the Amazon being cut down for pasture.  

As the world’s second-largest fashion retailer, H&M has a far-reaching global impact. And, despite the majority of the companies leathers coming from Europe, even the smallest decision from the fashion conglomerate is a positive step in the right direction.