Nothing in this world stands alone. Every living and non-living thing on our planet exists in a dense network interconnected with others. Our own actions, decisions, and habits affect and influence things often far beyond what we can see.
The connection between our clothes and wildlife might be the most remarkable example of this.
Everything we are wearing on our bodies had to come from somewhere. To make clothes, we need energy, water, transport, soil, and other resources. It means that we need to take something from nature to produce. No matter how the clothes have been made, there will always be some impact on those resources and nature. Our production, use, and disposal of clothes will also, directly and indirectly, affect the life that depends on those resources.
In other words, the fashion industry affects life in the wild. In the past decades, the industry has brought enormous harm to ecosystems and long-term damage to the planet.
However, there is more to it than this. Though it is vital to understand how fashion affects wildlife, we should also understand what we can do to minimize and possibly prevent further harm.
Today, we dive deeper into this topic.
What is Wildlife?
To see the importance of minimizing the harm our clothes have on wildlife, let us start by explaining what we mean by it.
Wildlife refers to all organisms, animals, and plants included, that grow and live in an area that humans do not directly manage or impact. Most commonly, when we think of wildlife, we think of undomesticated animals and places like rainforests or high mountains. As we said at the beginning, our world is interconnected, and wild-scale events like urbanization, industrialization, and industrial farming affected the wildlife.
According to one estimate, only about 23% of Earth's non-frozen landmass and 13% of oceans remain wilderness today. The climate change and environmental crisis we have been seeing in the past years only intensify this. Natural habitats are changing, burning, and melting due to weather and disasters. The wildlife is on the decline.
But why is it so important to stop these trends?
The role of Wildlife.
Wildlife and biodiversity are the keys to restoring our planet's health. More and more scientists advocate for natural climate solutions to climate change. These solutions center around preserving and conserving wildlife and could provide significant climate mitigation. Scientists argue, that we need to keep the global temperatures rise below 2°C to avoid environmental collapse.
The natural climate solutions are not simple lists of things we need to do, but they include achievable goals that many are working on already today. For example, re-forestation or increasing forest areas could remove two-thirds of carbon from the atmosphere. This is not only because trees take CO2 from the atmosphere but also because forests foster entire ecosystems. These ecosystems, which include animals and plants, help reduce greenhouse emissions, control water flow, offer shelter and protection in harsh weather conditions and keep the soil healthy.
However, this is only possible if they are diverse. We often talk about how every life is significant. We mean this beyond a simple empathy for another living being. Regardless of its size or number, every species can significantly influence the ecosystem's capacity.
Once again, science confirms this. To go back to forests, research shows that forests can absorb more C02 if populated by diverse mammals. That includes even predators, like wolves. Other studies explored the roles of beavers, whales, seaweed, elephants, and pretty much all animal and plant species and came to the same conclusion. Keeping spaces thriving in the wild is essential to navigate climate change and forge a safer future.
This is where we come back to our clothes.
How fashion affects Wildlife.
We already established that our clothes need natural resources to exist. Taking those resources always has an effect on the entire ecosystem. As the current mass-producing fast fashion industry does, the ecosystems have no time to restore when we do it extensively. The industry also pollutes nature in the process, further endangering the wildlife.
Of course, we cannot speak about wildlife and fashion without mentioning the direct and excessive use of animal skins, furs, and feathers. Humans have been wearing animal skins for millennials. Still, the modern fashion industry turned this into a highly unsustainable and damaging practice. Lately, more and more fashion brands are stopping to use animal products in their lines, but that alone is not enough.
Using excessively plant-based materials in fashion brings consequences too. Because of the industry's hunger to produce more each year, crops like cotton have been planted as monocultures. Planting a single crop destroys the ecosystems and affects other spaces. The fashion industry is also connected to deforestation, which has similar consequences.
Yet, things do not have to be this way.
The fashion industry can look different. At Savannah Morrow, this is our mission.
Doing fashion differently.
We always start from ourselves and take responsibility for the clothes we make. From sourcing the raw materials to weaving and sewing, we choose to minimize our clothes' impact.
Early on in our journey, we have decided to work with fabrics that are better for the environment and wildlife. For us, it meant giving priority to natural materials that do not require a lot of resources to grow and process. We work with organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo, to name just a few because they are safer for the planet and our bodies. We fully adhere to the slow fashion philosophy. Rather than quantity, we focus on the art and craft of clothes making.
Over the years, we also worked hard to build up our own supply chain to follow every step of our production. We make our own fabrics by hand, using little to no electricity in the process. If you have been following us for a while, you will know that a small business in India makes our fabrics. We process these fabrics minimally, using certified dyes and no toxic chemicals.
Next time you look at Savannah Morrow clothes, we want you to know that every thread you see every fold in the fabric results from a slow, careful, respectful, and responsible process. While we are by no means perfect - nor ever claim to be - we have chosen to do better from the start. With every new collection, we look for a way to make our production, transport, and materials even more gentle to this planet and the life on it.