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Here's Why Vans And Parent Co., VF Corp, Stopped Buying Brazilian Leather

As fires continue to ravage the Amazon, Vans and their parent company, VF Corp, have announced that they will no longer be purchasing Brazilian-sourced leather until something changes. 

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and the country’s cattle industry has been widely blamed for the destruction and deforestation of the Amazon. More than 30,000 fires have burned in the Amazon rainforest in August with over 80,000 fires to date in 2019. Often referred to as the Earth’s lungs, the Amazon is believed to provide the planet with 20-percent of its oxygen, making the fires not just an environmental issue for South America, but for the whole world.

According to an article on CNN Business, "In one of the first major corporate responses to the blazes, VF Corp. (VFC) — which owns brands including Timberland, Vans and The North Face — said it will stop using leather from the South American country until it has "the confidence and assurance that the materials used in our products do not contribute to environmental harm in the country," according to a statement.

"Demand for beef and leather has caused huge swathes of land in the rainforest to be cleared for cattle ranches, potentially a major factor behind the fires."

With $13.8 billion in revenue last year, the power of the purse is mighty when it comes to VF Corp. Other brands their portfolio include North Face, Timberland, Dickies and JanSport. 

In recent years, VF Corp has made a concerted effort to up their sustainability game, but this is by far the biggest public statement they’ve made.

In their 2016 Sustainability Report they noted, “Traditionally the biggest businesses have had the greatest negative impact on the planet. We’re turning that notion on its head to challenge ourselves - and prove to the world - that big can be good. We’ll use our scale to tackle big problems around climate change, materials, and workers’ rights.”

Exporting leather is a $1.44 billion business in Brazil. The United States, China and Italy are their three larges customers, collectively consuming an estimated 60 percent of Brazilian leather exports in 2018.

"Scientists have warned that the blazes, which have been raging at a record rate, could strike a devastating blow in the fight against climate change," continues CNN Business. 

Reacting to international pressure, President has now declared a 60-day ban on the fires and sent troops to problem areas to enforce the ban.

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