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Forests4Fashion flyer



“Forest is nature. Fashion is artefact. The way we dress delivers a message of metamorphosis and a vision of the world. It is important to start from there. The Forests for Fashion - Fashion for Forests initiative, using Rebirth as its symbol, is the union of nature – our planetary habitat – and artefact – a mental habitus – in that place where sustainable fashion is possible.”

Michelangelo Pistoletto



Placing sustainability at the core of fashion - The Forests4Fashion initiative

Launched in 2014 to promote sustainable forest management beyond the forestry sector and encourage sustainable production and consumption in support of Sustainable Development Goal 12.

Through communication and outreach activities on social media and through exhibitions and engagement with the design community, the F4F initiative aims to:

  • raise awareness about the environmental and social impacts associated with textile-fibre production;
  • initiate real change in the world of fashion by demonstrating how innovative forest fibres can contribute to a greener economy, while still being both fashionable and highly marketable;
  • promote sustainable forest management through the use of certified wood pulp for textile fibres.

Trends come and go

Promoting sustainable production and consumption patterns is not easy. Not only does it require political will and commitment, but also a shift in consumer attitudes to what is fashionable.

Our work and the Forest4Fashion initiative is guided by United Nations General Assembly resolution 76/223 on natural plant fibres and sustainable development. Sustainable fashion is also at the core of the UNECE/FAO work programme, which raises awareness about the increasingly crucial role that forests, and forest products play, and will continue to play, in the sustainable and circular transition of industries like fashion and textiles.

Fact check: the reality behind fashion and the textile industry

The global fashion industry's estimated worth is $2.5 trillion
It is estimated that 100 billion items of clothing are produced each year, 20% of which go unsold
Less than 1% of material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing
Up to 80% of employees in the garment industry are women, many of whom face sexual harassments in factories
On average, women earn 60-70% of men's wages, reflected in high poverty levels among women in the textile industry
Fibre production makes the third highest contribution to the climate impact of textiles, mainly from production of synthetic fibres
More than 2.400 chemical substances are used in clothing manufacturing of which 30% pose a risk to human health
Each year, around half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres resulting from the washing of textiles are estimated to be release in the ocean. This is equivalent to more than 50 billion plastic bottles
Discarded clothing made of non-biodegradable fabrics can sit in landfill for up to 200 years

Forests4Fashion - forest fibres and sustainable fashion

At present, wood-derived fibres represent the only potential source of sustainable clothing sufficient to meet global needs.

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Forest fibres, also known as man-made cellulosic fibres (or MMCF), are predominantly made from trees and other plants such as bamboo. Today, they make up only 6.4% of the global fibre market, a market dominated by synthetic fibres and cotton (60% and 30 % of the market share). 

Forest fibres sourced from sustainably managed forests have great potential from a sustainability perspective, moving production away from oil-derived synthetic fibres and reducing the depletion of fresh water associated with cotton cultivation. Modern production techniques allow for all toxic chemicals used in the manufacturing process to be captured and reused instead of being released into the environment. 

While forests are currently a small player in the huge fashion and textile industry, they have extraordinary potential for a greater role and increased sustainability, starting with the sustainable management of forests. 


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UNECE is partnering with the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion and collaborates with PEFC, United Nations Forum on Forests, Cittadellarte Fashion B.E.S.T, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and Zoi Environment Network as well as designers such as Tiziano Guardini, Maria Lafuente and Olistic the label.

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