Fiber: The Clothing & Textile Industry

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The Problem

The Link

Each year, countless numbers of people and animals suffer and die for the production of clothing, accessories, and other textiles. Leather, wool, fur, and other industries that use animals for their skin, fur, and feathers contribute to significant physical and mental suffering among animals and workers. Within these industries, animals are deprived of normal lives, and they endure tremendous cruelty.

Modern slavery—forced labor, including in the leather footwear industry, is a problem across multiple continents, including in Asia and South America. Migrant workers are at particular risk, and labor rights violations include practices such as wage theft.

Disease Risk

ZoonosesThe use of animals in clothing and textile production fuels the risk for infectious diseases that are passed from animals to humans.

Those who work in or live near facilities that produce clothing and textiles such as leather also suffer disproportionately from environmental health hazards, including certain forms of cancer. Children, who are particularly vulnerable to toxic chemicals, are also forced to work in the industry.

The Climate Crisis and Environmental Injustice

Corporations that use animals for leather production fuel greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity and pollution, solid waste production, rainforest destruction, and indiscriminate land use. People living in economically impoverished areas worldwide experience these consequences most acutely.

Phoenix Zones Initiative


The Promise: When the World Is a Phoenix Zone

Clothing and shelter are basic needs for human beings. The current fiber production system, however, produces violence toward nonhumans and takes advantage of the economic vulnerability of many humans even as it provides the means through which we protect ourselves physically. It does not need to be this way. We envision the world’s human population clothed from plant-derived fibers and sheltered through ecologically regenerative means, supported by governments that implement programs and policies that value social and environmental justice above corporate profits and that reward human ingenuity when it is directed toward nonviolent and healing solutions to social and material challenges.

Fiber production systems, uniquely fashioned by and for communities based on their social and environmental ecologies, will promote health, wellbeing, and the opportunity to thrive at every step of the process. No fiber production worker will be subjected to physically or emotionally dangerous conditions of employment, and no one will live in a built environment that exudes manufactured toxins. Animals will be free from the harms of physical and emotional containment, abuse, and death at the hands of humans intent on taking their skins, scales, feathers, hair, or fur.

By respecting the rights of all humans to adequate shelter and clothing and to nontoxic means of meeting their individual, family, and community needs, and by respecting the rights of animals to be free from human use and abuse, we can significantly reduce the burden of disease in humans resulting from toxic exposures at work and at home, and we can remove conditions that stand in the way of natural systems rebalancing themselves. Humans can do this; with your help, this vision can become a reality.

Our Response Toward Effective Solutions

Research and Analysis

Currently, there are many efforts to draw attention to the problems with the clothing and textile industry. However, many of these efforts focus on risk mitigation and other partial solutions, rather than on a clear vision that prioritizes rights and health above profit.

Through outreach, and research and analysis, we work to better understand the scope of the problem and potential solutions, including how to move from exploitative agricultural and production systems to compassionate solutions that account for rights and public health, political, and economic indicators.

Education, Advocacy, Coalition Building, and Policy and Practice Change

Working in partnership with others, we identify international, national, and regional opportunities to shift policies and practices relevant for producing clothing, accessories, and other textiles. We provide a platform to identify and share scalable solutions that can leverage shifts in corporate decisions and policy, and we illuminate the effects of trade agreements and related economic drivers so that we can better advocate for holistic, effective change that benefits both people and animals.

As part of our commitment to coalition building, we partner with organizations like Impact Fashion, a leading organization in sustainable, cruelty-free fashion. These partnerships highlight and promote a positive, vegan, solutions-oriented approach to the many ethical challenges—ranging from child labor and modern slavery to animal suffering—in the clothing industry.