Activists Wrangle Forest Victories from Corporations

Kleercut t-shirt

T-shirt from the Greenpeace Kleercut campaign, which targeted Kleenex manufacturer Kimberly-Clark.

Fierce pressure from activists has led several major corporations to change purchasing practices linked to deforestation.

Kimberly-Clark, maker of Kleenex brand, now says it will manufacture all of its tissue products from “environmentally responsible sources,” such as recycled fiber or sustainably harvested wood.

The decision was a response to a five-year campaign led by Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and other environmental activists.

As part of the campaign, students organized campus actions against Kimberly-Clark, and more than a dozen colleges and universities removed the company’s products from bookstore shelves and bathroom stalls.

The campaign prompted shareholders to introduce resolutions asking the company to make its fiber purchases more sustainable.

Greenpeace won a second series of victories after it released a report in June that linked rainforest destruction to cattle ranching. Just weeks after the report was published, the International Finance Corporation, the private lending arm of the World Bank Group, withdrew a loan to one of the world’s largest meat producers, Brazilian conglomerate Bertin.

In October, Bertin and three other major meat producers, JBS-Friboi, Marfrig, and Minerva, agreed to a ban on the purchase of cattle raised on newly deforested areas of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, on indigenous lands, on protected areas, or on farms that use slave labor.

Shoe manufacturers Adidas, Nike, and Timberland announced they would cancel contracts for leather products unless the producers guaranteed they have no role in Amazon deforestation and are not using slave labor.

—Laura Kaliebe is a freelance writer based in Seattle.



Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has proposed banning the development of new sugar cane plantations in the Amazon rainforest and the Pantanal wetlands.

Sugar cane-based ethanol accounts for more than 20 percent of Brazil’s transport fuel market, but the expansion of ethanol production has resulted in deforestation and labor exploitation. Brazil’s Congress will vote on the proposal next year.


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