Skip to comments.Victoria's Secret slips into green for caribou-No catalogue paper from reindeer's range
Posted on 12/12/2006 6:01:10 PM PST by SJackson
A two-year campaign by environmental activists that set beautiful women in sexy lingerie against photos of denuded boreal forest ended yesterday as the corporate parent of Victoria's Secret pledged to use "greener" paper in its mammoth catalogue run.
Limited Brands, a retail giant that publishes 350 million Victoria's Secret catalogues a year, will no longer use suppliers who obtain paper from any caribou habitat in Canada unless the paper has met the stringent requirements of the Forest Stewardship Council, the company said.
It's the latest round in an ongoing battle where commodities - be it coffee, cotton or conifers - are assessed in terms of environmental impact. In the forestry industry, which represents three per cent of Canada's gross domestic product and employs about 900,000 people, the economic stakes are huge.
"This is the very beginnings of a change not just at Limited Brands but in the catalogue industry," said Todd Paglia, executive director of ForestEthics.
The international non-profit group's "Victoria's Dirty Secret" campaign featured more than 750 protests and events, mainly in the United States
Other catalogue publishers, including Dell and Sears, "will need to meet or beat the challenge" launched by Limited, Paglia said.
Tom Katzenmeyer, senior vice-president for Ohio-based Limited, yesterday hailed the "landmark environmental stewardship agreement," saying it would benefit all involved, including company shareholders and Mother Nature.
"The growing controversy about logging in caribou range is of serious concern to us, and we want to ensure that our paper consumption does not contribute to the demise of endangered species," Katzenmeyer said.
Limited recently ended its dealings with a supplier whose source was Vancouver-based West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd., which has a pulp mill near Hinton, Alta., a range that is now among those off limits to any potential Limited paper supplier, reporters were told.
(Katzenmeyer would not disclose the value of the contract, but indications were that it was measured in the hundreds of millions.)
In 2007, the popular catalogue of Victoria's Secret, currently delivered to about 3 million Canadian households, will require paper that has a 10-per-cent content of post-consumer waste - used paper that has been de-inked and processed - or 10-per-cent Forest Stewardship Council-certified content.
Canadian forestry companies are not being ruled out as paper sources, according to both Katzenmeyer and Paglia, who have met with governments and companies in Canada.
During yesterday's conference call, Quebec-based Domtar Inc. and Tembec Inc. were cited as notable companies that produce Forest Stewardship Council-certified products.
Companies of that type "will get the business they deserve," Paglia said.
Not only is the woodland caribou an endangered species, its habitat, the boreal forest, is the "world's largest storehouse of carbon," said Tzeporah Berman, ForestEthics program director.
"It's absurd it should be destroyed for catalogues," she said.
Paglia described the two-pronged ForestEthics campaign as "the new face of environmentalism."
Unlike an array of other campaigns that have sought consumer boycotts of specific items - and such forestry products as tissue paper are increasingly among them - this campaign was waged in corporate offices, where it involved discussion, and on the street, where it involved street theatre including giant puppets, plus a media campaign with newspaper ads featuring scantily clad women holding chainsaws.
ForestEthics has been trying to "harness positive environmental change through working in the marketplace," Paglia said.
"It is being market savvy and not looking at everything as an absolute - 'a company must lose in order for the environment to win' - but actually looking to turn some of the most powerful companies in the world ... into strong environmental advocates and partners," he said.
Limited's new corporate policy states "a strong preference" for fibre certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and annual audits of its paper trail will be made public.
Limited said it will also try to reduce catalogue use, and yesterday committed more than $1 million U.S. to research and advocacy to protect endangered forests.
It had already increased the use of post-consumer waste content in its clearance catalogues to 80 per cent.
The Forest Products Association of Canada, whose membership includes Tembec and West Fraser but not Domtar, was highly critical of Limited's decision.
It pits forestry companies against one another and doesn't reflect the reality of ongoing boreal forest conservation, president Avrim Lazar said.
"It is unfortunate that ForestEthics has decided to present a very simplistic and biased version of the issue," he said.
Its approach, "based on distorted information," pressured Limited into adopting a policy "that discriminates against over 300 forestry-dependent communities across Canada," Lazar said.
Forest Stewardship Council certification, described by ForestEthics and Limited yesterday as "the only credible certification for sustainable logging," involves regular onsite audits, stringent technical requirements and the involvement of local communities, notably aboriginal.
I suppose if the comment about pictures and rules comes up, the thread will be inundated with pictures of dead forests.
When using puppets and street theatre expect simplistic.
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