Major Shoe and Sportswear Companies Refuse to Buy Leather from Brazil After Cattle Farmers Set the Amazon on Fire

In an effort to protect the rainforest, Timberland, Vans, Dickies, The North Face and Jansport will no longer buy leather from Brazil

The world has been watching in horror as wildfires blaze across the Amazon in recent weeks. In the last few days, we’ve learned cattle ranchers are the main culprits behind the fires.

Desperate to make a dollar in a world that cherishes cheap beef and leather, and emboldened by Brazil’s new President Jair Bolsonaro, they are slashing and burning large swaths of lush rainforest to the ground to make way for factory farms.

Since Bolsonaro took office at the beginning of this year, the number of wildfires has increased by 80 percent. Bolsonaro campaigned on opening up the rainforest to farming and mining and has de-funded and fired government agents responsible for protecting the environment.

Worried about the consequences of rapid deforestation on the ratio of oxygen to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, international governments are preparing to take action, and private companies are also doing their part.

Last week the parent company of The North Face, Timberland, Vans, Dickies and Jansport, VF Corp, announced it will no longer source any of their leather from Brazil.

A recent investigative report found the world’s largest leather producer (and meat-packer) JBS has been buying cattle from cattle ranchers operating illegally in the rainforest. JBS responded by saying it’s difficult to keep track of where their cattle come from.

Now VF Corp is helping them sort it out by not buying any leather from the entire country “until we have the confidence and assurance that the materials used in our products do not contribute to environmental harm in the country.”

A spokesman for the Center for Brazilian Tannery Industries told Globo News that VF Corp is an important client.

“Selling to one famous brand helps us sell to others,” he said.