FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 20th, 2014
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Big Fashion Put on Notice for its Role in Forest Destruction, Rights Abuses; Activists to Place ‘Warning Labels’ on Offending Brands
Rayon and other fabrics commonly used by the ‘Fashion Fifteen’ brands are made from dissolving pulp tied to deforestation, says Rainforest Action Network
San Francisco, CA – Major fashion brands are grinding up forests to make the clothes American’s wear everyday? It sounds crazy, but it’s true. While very few people have even heard of dissolving pulp, it is the primary ingredient in rayon and other common fabrics, and forest advocates say it is a growing threat to forests around the world.
Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has launched the Out of Fashion campaign, which calls on major fashion brands, dubbed the ‘Fashion Fifteen,’ to commit to using only forest friendly fabrics in their products. RAN is engaging with the fashion industry to convince companies to adopt binding policies to ensure that deforestation, human rights abuses and climate pollution are rooted out and removed from their fabric supply chains.
“Every year, millions of trees are turned into clothing through the use of dissolving pulp. And the process is almost criminally inefficient: only thirty percent of tree matter is actually usable for clothing,” says Brihannala Morgan, senior forest campaigner with Rainforest Action Network (RAN). “This scandal has been hidden in plain sight for too long, but no more. The time has come for the fashion industry to take responsibility for its impacts on people and the planet and to publicly adopt binding policies that prevent deforestation, human rights abuses and climate pollution from being woven into the fabrics Americans wear everyday.”
Starting today, activists around the country are flooding malls, boutique clothing stores and major shopping outlets, placing stickers on the tags of clothing made with dissolving pulp that say “Warning: This Item May Contain Forest Destruction.”
Fibers made from dissolving pulp go by many names, including: rayon, viscose, Tencel ©, Lyocell and modal.
The Fashion Fifteen group of companies targeted by the Out of Fashion campaign are divided into three categories which include 1) ‘Closet Classics’ brands: Guess, Abercrombie, Forever 21, Velvet and Limited Brands (Victoria Secret, The Limited and Express); 2) Athletic brands: Under Armour, Foot Locker, Gaiam, Beyond Yoga and 3) Luxury brands: Prada Group, Vince, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren and LVMH (which includes Dior, Donna Karen, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton and many others).
Dissolving pulp comes from critical forest ecosystems around the world, including Canada, Indonesia, South Africa, and the USA. In Indonesia, dissolving pulp plantations have logged irreplaceable tropical rainforests, displaced traditional communities and destroyed priceless biodiversity. Communities in Northern Sumatra have been fighting a dissolving pulp mill for over 20 years, taking action to protect the forests, rivers, and farms at the basis of their way of life.
For more information on dissolving pulp and RAN’s Out of Fashion campaign, see here.
Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org
We launched a campaign to turn up the heat on Pepsico and its use of Conflict Palm Oil. The goal has been to takeover its darkly ironic #LiveForNow advertising campaign that encourages consumption while ignoring human rights abuses, land grabs, and deforestation. Supporters like you have been doing just that by tweeting pictures from events and anywhere they spot the logo of Pepsico’s flagship brand Pepsi, calling out the truth.
Our “#LiveForNow Shouldn’t Mean Destroying Tomorrow” site is built for people like you to use to crank up the pressure on PepsiCo. Pictures coming in from people across the US and the globe will make it clear to PepsiCo that our movement is building and we won’t stop until it ends its use of Conflict Palm Oil.
Remember, take a selfie with a Pepsi sign and tweet it out with the hashtag #LiveForNow and we’ll feature you on the site too!
We know your pressure is working. PepsiCo is one of the 5 laggards companies we called out in April who have refused to take effective steps to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil, but other companies are moving. This week, palm oil laggard Conagra Foods announced a new commitment to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil. Together we can push PepsiCo to do the right thing and fix the weaknesses in its Palm Oil Commitment. So keep up the pressure! Start now by sharing our spoof site with your friends and family on Twitter and Facebook.
Indonesian pulp and paper giant Toba Pulp Lestari has been operating recklessly in North Sumatra for years. The company's mill has been poisoning communities and disrupting life and livelihoods for the local people who call this area home. The mill, and it’s operators, are responsible for horrific land conflicts between the company and villagers who hold traditional land rights to the company’s concessions.
These communities, whose land is protected by customary rights under Indonesian law, rely on these forests for their life and livelihoods. As reported by RAN’s on-the-ground partner, Kelompok Studi dan Pengembangan Prakarsa Masyarakat, well over 17,000 hectares of natural forest have been destroyed, impacting or displacing over 13,000 Indigenous people.
These communities are fighting back, and at least 59 activists have been arrested for resisting Toba Pulp Lestari’s continued expansion and destruction. In the past few years, land conflict has only escalated between villagers and Toba Pulp Lestari employees over the forest area. Meetings with government representatives and Toba Pulp Lestari management have brought no results, and local villagers have resorted to protests and blockades of company operations in order to protect the forests.
The behavior of Toba Pulp Lestari employees shows clear disregard for the livelihoods of local people. In February 2013, local farmers from Pandumaan and Sipituhuta Villages caught Toba Pulp Lestari employees entering their forest areas and cutting down frankincense trees. Instead of apprehending those causing the destruction, resulting clashes between farmers and the employees led to the arrests of 31 farmers.
The harvest of frankincense is essential to the local economy. These communities, who have farmed this land for generations, extract the frankincense without destroying the trees in order to maintain the health of the forest and keep this vital source of income intact for future generations. When the forests are wiped out for pulp plantations, Toba Pulp Lestari destroys not only the livelihoods of the community, their childrens’ livelihoods, and the ecosystem, but it destroys their culture as well.
Local communities have opposed the mill since it began operations in North Sumatra in 1989 due to the rainforest destruction, land grabbing and toxics pollution central to the company’s business model. In 1990, 10 elderly women from Sugapa Village were arrested for pulling up and destroying eucalyptus plantings on their traditional land. Protests by the local community escalated in 1998 and temporarily shut down the mill. But in recent years, the company has changed its name from PT Inti Indorayon Utama to PT Toba Pulp Lestari and reopened the mill; it is now in the process of expanding its destructive operations further into pristine rainforest. Along with name changes, the company has changed affiliations multiple times in order to hide its destruction. The company was formerly affiliated with pulp and paper giant, Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) and its parent Royal Golden Eagle (RGE), and is still controlled by notorious Indonesian business tycoon Sukanto Tanoto through holding companies.
This may seem like a conflict far away from those of us in the Americas, Europe, or Australia, but it’s closer than one would think. A wide variety of consumer products contain pulp from rainforests like those in North Sumatra, including paper, food, cosmetics, household goods—even clothing. This pulp, and the conflict that produced it, is sold on store shelves in your neighborhood - unmarked and unidentifiable.
Unless Toba Pulp Lestari respects the rights of the Indigenous people, including the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), conflicts will only continue. And while Indonesia’s Constitutional Court has acknowledged the customary forest rights of the communities, Toba Pulp Lestari’s concessions and operations continue to undermine the ability of local people to access and manage their own forests.
We plan to keep you up to date on this conflict and bring more information continue to explore and expose the pulp supply chains threatening global rainforests.... stay tuned.
On May 20, thousands of us united in a Global Day of Action to tell PepsiCo to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil. PepsiCo responded by announcing a Forestry Stewardship Policy and Palm Oil Commitment, but neither of these new promises are strong enough to guarantee that Pepsi’s use of palm oil is not driving rainforest destruction, species extinction and human and labor rights abuses.
PepsiCo is the largest globally distributed snack food company in the world - the company uses enough palm oil every single year to fill Pepsi cans that would stretch around the Earth 4 times - but it has fallen out of step with its peers and still has no truly responsible palm oil purchasing policy.
Instead of cutting Conflict Palm Oil from its products, PepsiCo continues to push its darkly ironic #LiveForNow campaign. PepsiCo is telling people not to worry about climate change, the fate of the last wild orangutans and children that are forced to work in slave-like conditions on oil palm plantations and just #LiveForNow!
It’s our job to tell PepsiCo that #LiveForNow isn’t good enough. This summer we’re turning up the heat.
PepsiCo is pushing its #LiveForNow propaganda out through it’s “Real Big Summer” marketing campaign which includes Pepsi sponsored concerts and events across the US. We need YOU to crash Pepsi-sponsored events and deliver the message that #LiveForNow shouldn’t mean rainforest destruction, climate change and human rights abuses.
Because of you PepsiCo has made some progress. With your help we’ve convinced the snack food giant to go beyond just sourcing Roundtable on Sustainable Palm certified palm oil. However, PepsiCo’s policies lack a commitment to trace its palm oil back to the plantations where the oil palm fruit was grown and to verify that its suppliers operations are free of forced and child labor, conflicts with Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and clearance of rainforests and peatlands. It also lacks a time bound action plan, so it’s hard for its consumers to know what steps it will take to clean up its palm oil supply chain.
This isn’t good enough. PepsiCo must adopt a policy that is inline with what forests, the people that rely on them and our planet need and demand that its suppliers, like Cargill, do the same.
With your help we’ll convince the global snack food giant to take the steps that will guarantee that its products - like Quaker Oats and Frito-Lay Chips - will be free of Conflict Palm Oil for good.
Help us turn up the heat on PepsiCo this summer. Sign up to let us know you’re in.
Almost six months after the release of its Sustainable Forest Management Policy, Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd (APRIL)—the second-largest Indonesian pulp & paper company—continues business-as-usual rainforest destruction, betraying the spirit and substance of its policy.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported in May that APRIL-owned PT RAPP cleared massive swaths of carbon-rich peatlands on Pulau Padang, an island off the Sumatran coast that APRIL promised to help restore. Members of island community Desa Bagan Melibur have called on APRIL to terminate operations on their community land, and Desa Bagan Melibur’s May 17 protest is the most recent clash in a stark legacy of land disputes between APRIL and Padang’s thirteen villages since 2009.
Pulau Padang’s peatlands store millions of tons of carbon and are home to endangered species and communities that depend on these forests for their livelihoods. You could also say the island itself is endangered: decaying peat causes the low-lying island to subside, and scientists warn that if no action is taken, Padang may very well be under sea level and useless for any type of cultivation by 2050.
APRIL’s forest policy itself is rife with loopholes and allows APRIL to continue slashing natural forests in its concessions through December and source rainforest fiber until 2020. Yet the company’s refusal to uphold even its weak policy commitments brings APRIL’s intentions entirely into doubt. In addition to the Pulau Padang case, earlier this year, APRIL suppliers were caught clearing natural forests on legally protected peat land in Borneo and high conservation value forest on peat land in Riau. In the latter case, not only were internationally protected ramin trees cut down, but APRIL supplier PT Triomas allegedly attempted to hide the evidence by burying the contraband logs.
There is mounting recognition that APRIL’s policy and actions are insufficient and not credible. Last Friday, RAN and an international collation of allies co-authored a letter highlighting the severe shortcomings in APRIL’s policies, such as the lack of a moratorium on natural forest and peat land conversion, unclear commitments on resolving social conflicts, and the policy’s narrow scope, which does not extend to cover APRIL’s sister companies within owner Sukanto Tanoto’s rogue cartel of companies, such as Toba Pulp Lestari, Sateri, and Asian Agri. The letter also points to the inadequacy and questionable credibility of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) APRIL set up to help develop, implement, and monitor the forest policy in a transparent and independent manner.
APRIL’s new policy and the SAC risk being nothing but a parade of environmental lip service built on teetering scaffolds of environmental destruction, social conflict, and corruption. Customers and financiers must cut ties with APRIL and other companies owned by Sukanto Tanoto and pressure APRIL to end rainforest clearing and respect community rights.
Remember when we told you about Lumber Liquidators’ connection with illegal logging in Russia? The clearing of critical forests in the Russian Far East, the last habitat of the endangered Siberian tiger, is an unacceptable price to pay for cheap hardwood flooring. Our allies at the Environmental Investigation Agency released an in-depth report, which showed exactly how this crucial ecosystem ended up in Lumber Liquidators’ supply chains, and ultimately, into the homes of families here in the U.S.
Today, the Environmental Investigation Agency released a new video on illegal logging which highlights the importance of the Lacey Act, the US law that prohibits the import and sale of illegal goods (including forest products).
This illegal timber trade, which comprises 30% of logging worldwide and is worth 1 billion dollars per year, threatens forests, forest-dependent peoples, the climate and biodiversity, not just in Russia or Indonesia, but globally. It is one of the critical reasons we need the Lacey Act, and why the law should be enforced and fully funded.
Just three weeks ago, the company was targeted for importing illegal timber from Brazilian rainforests. It is necessary for companies like Lumber Liquidators to do their homework and dig into their supply chains not only to avoid illegally harvested timber and wood products but to go above and beyond the law and ensure that the forest products they sell are not linked to deforestation or human rights violations.
Adopting such measures is not only feasible, but makes good business sense. As our publishers report detailed with paper, there are some best practices that companies can use to eliminate illegal and controversial sources from their supply chains like including environmental and social performance obligations in their contracts, requiring declarations, using wood and fiber testing and requiring third party verification like FSC certification.
Taking simple steps to police their own supply chains shouldn’t be too much to ask for companies like Lumber Liquidators – in fact, because of the Lacey Act, it’s the law!
This is a common sense step. Join us and tell Lumber Liquidators follow the law and comply with the Lacey Act. and to further by ensuring none of the products they offer are linked to deforestation or human rights violations. We’d also really appreciate it if you could share the video with your friends -- we have to spread the word about how irresponsible sourcing of wood and paper products is threatening global forests. Help us make an impact!
From Kuala Lumpur to San Francisco, Oslo to Cape Town, thousands of activists took a stand on May 20th with their friends, colleagues and families to write their own stories for the future of our food system and our planet. Our demand, a food system without Conflict Palm Oil, is bold, ambitious and urgently needed. Because of your willingness to stand up and demand action, we are driving change through the palm oil supply chain.
Thanks to you, the May 20th Global Day of Action to Cut Conflict Palm Oil was a tremendous success. The stories of actions across the globe are inspiring and the numbers impressive: Over 100 events took place in the US, 38 events were hosted abroad and 700 people said they would attend events around the world. Online, PepsiCo heard from thousands of you—its Facebook pages were flooded, its phone lines filled, and the #InYourPalm message was spread far and wide. The photos from Tuesday’s actions are moving; check out the photo album on our Facebook page (and tag yourself if you're in one)!
For over a year, PepsiCo has refused to adopt a responsible palm oil policy, but just 2 days before the Global Day of Action the snack food giant released a new commitment. It’s not strong enough yet, but it’s a start. Thanks to the powerful work, commitment and creativity that Palm Oil Activists poured into the Day of Action, PepsiCo knows that we won’t back down until it cuts Conflict Palm Oil from its global product lines once and for all.
As I think about what we’re accomplishing, a quote about movements like the one that we are building from from one of my heroes, Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy, keeps coming to mind:
“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
Because of you, we are close to a tipping point in our campaign to cut Conflict Palm Oil. Together we are transforming the policies of one of the largest Fortune 500 companies in the world as well as shifting the paradigm for how palm oil companies operate in Indonesia.Thank you for joining us in demanding healthy, intact rainforests, a world without slave labor and a future in which unique species like elephants and orangutans are thriving.
A special thanks to the Palm Oil Action Team, our group of super activists who were the first to step up and take action online, volunteer to host events, and to help organize the Day of Action. Our movement is getting stronger. You too can step up and join the Palm Oil Action Team here.
Today, our Global Day of Action to Cut Conflict Palm Oil is sweeping the world, ratcheting up the pressure for PepsiCo to break its ties to deforestation, human rights abuses and climate pollution. A moment ago, RAN unfurled a massive 60 foot banner exposing the impacts of Conflict Palm Oil at the Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago.
From the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia to cities across Australia and the UK, to the beaches of San Francisco and Brazil, students, families and ordinary people have organized themselves in droves today to send a clear and united message to PepsiCo and its peers: the time to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from your products is now.
PepsiCo is scrambling—the fact that the snack food giant released a new palm oil commitment just a few days ago is evidence of this. But, it’s not strong enough and lacks safeguards on human rights and a binding, time bound action plan to cut Conflict Palm Oil. NOW is the time to give PepsiCo the final push for real change for forests and the communities that depend on them. We have PepsiCo's attention.
Now here's how we win:
1. Let’s take over Pepsi’s Facebook page. Cut and paste this message as a comment: #PepsiCo, cut Conflict Palm Oil! The power is #InYourPalm. http://a.ran.org/ad
2. Let’s make our voice heard on Twitter: Hey @PepsiCo, I can’t stand by brands that use Conflict #PalmOil. The power is #InYourPalm
3. Let’s talk to the people who represent PepsiCo: (+1)(914) 253-2000 Here is a guide to what you can say: “Hi, my name is [your name]. I’m taking part in the Global Day of Action. It concerns me that your company cannot guarantee that it is not using Conflict Palm Oil in its products. PepsiCo must demand responsible palm oil from its suppliers and eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from its products. PepsiCo’s taken a step in the right direction by releasing a new palm oil commitment, but a statement of intent is not the same as a binding, time bound responsible palm oil policy. For PepsiCo to meet consumer expectations, it must adopt an action plan to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from its products that includes full traceability of palm oil back to its source and independently verified safeguards for human rights, forests and peatlands.Thank you”
Because of YOU we have built a movement to cut Conflict Palm Oil from our food supply. We're just getting warmed up—thanks for being a part of this.
We don’t get to do this as often as we would like. Today, we get to share some good news with you. Thanks to your hard work and support over the past four years, the world’s top publishers are moving in the right direction when it comes to eliminating rainforest destruction, human rights violations, and species extinction from their supply chains.
We’re publishing A New Chapter for the Publishing Industry: Putting Promises into Practice today, which outlines the shift in the entire sector as the implementation of publishers’ Indonesian forest commitments proceeds. Given the progress that publishers have undertaken in the last four years (since our 2010 report), we can confidently say that you have successfully prodded the 10 biggest publishers—and hence the whole industry—in the right direction. Click here to read the new report.
To really illustrate the point, we are pleased to tell you about two recently announced paper policies from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Macmillan. These policies go farther, in many ways, than past commitments from other companies. They demonstrate a new level of thoughtfulness and attention to detail—and a fierce commitment to eliminating controversial fiber and suppliers in order to protect the forests facing the greatest threats. Over the last four years, RAN has worked closely with publishers to develop and innovate the best practices for eliminating controversial fiber and suppliers from supply chains, and verifying and implementing forest commitments. What has emerged is a set of best practices (spelled out in the report) that could guide companies--not just in paper but in many forest commodities--in tracing their supply chains and protecting forests in the process. Of course, there’s still work to be done.
In order to translate this work to change on the ground, publishers should urge all of their supply chain partners to develop and implement strong, comprehensive paper policies. And, in particular, all companies should either stop buying (or maintain their no-buy stance) on controversial Indonesian pulp and paper giant APRIL and all affiliated companies.
Of course, this transformative work would never have been possible without you. While much of this work has happened behind the scenes, you were with us every step of the way through your commitment to RAN and its work.
I recently heard Jane Goodall speak about the importance of having hope in a time when our planet’s natural systems teeter on the brink of collapse. She compared climate change to a titanic ship that takes a while to build up momentum, but once it gains speed, it may be too huge and too fast to turn to avoid the iceberg in its path. We’re currently on that ship - all of humanity, together. Which means that our children’s future depends on the choices you and I make today. We can either quickly respond to the signs all around us that point to climate catastrophe and jump on board this “all hands on deck” moment to stop climate change or we can idly stand by and watch our ship sink.
As a new mom, slowing climate change by protecting our tropical forests – the largest greenhouse gas storage tank in the world -- and transforming our broken industrial food system, is more important and more personal to me than ever before. There is nothing like the love and fierce protection a mother feels for her children, which is why in honor of Mother’s Day I am taking matters into my own hands to fight for the world that my son will inherit, starting in my own kitchen.
How can I tackle climate change from my very own kitchen, you may ask? By joining the Global Day of Action to Cut Conflict Palm Oil on May 20.
Our food and our climate are inextricably linked. About 75% of global palm oil is used in food products and cooking, and roughly 90% of it is grown in Indonesia & Malaysia, where the scale of destruction is so large that it is having globally significant impacts on the climate, similar in scale to the world’s biggest coal and tar sands projects. Deforestation in Indonesia is responsible for some 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the combined emissions from all the millions of cars, trucks, trains, and buses in the U.S. each year combined.
Are you feeding your family Conflict Palm Oil? It’s a hidden ingredient in the foods most of us are feeding our families every day that is enslaving children, killing endangered orangutans, and destroying the rainforest. America's snack makers are putting Conflict Palm Oil in everything from baby formula to kids’ snacks, and Rainforest Action Network has put them on notice that this practice must stop.
Take, for instance, PepsiCo - the largest globally distributed snack food company in the world. PepsiCo is the biggest and most influential of the Snack Food 20 companies that has yet to take steps to address its Conflict Palm Oil problem. PepsiCo has the power to break the link between the products you buy and rainforest destruction, but they won’t until you, the consumer, demand it.
Moms and Dads, in honor of Mother’s day, will you join me in asking one of the largest makers of kids snacks, PepsiCo, to do the right thing and cut Conflict Palm Oil from the food we’re feeding our families every day? We have a powerful voice. Pepsi will listen if we speak! There is a way to get palm oil that doesn't enslave children and make orangutans extinct.
Working together, we have the power to win a tremendous victory for people and the planet by challenging business as usual and forcing the palm oil industry to respect the rights of workers and communities, protect orangutan habitat and the rainforests that play a crucial role in combating climate change. We can break the link between deforestation, human rights violations and the foods our families eat everyday.
On May 20, mothers, fathers, teachers, and youth around the world will be hosting photo actions around the globe, calling on PepsiCo to cut Conflict Palm Oil from its supply chain. We believe that the power is #InYourPalm and when you speak PepsiCo will have no choice but to listen. This is why we are asking everyone to host an action that includes the words #InYourPalm. All you have to do is take a photo of your action so we can send it to PepsiCo and demand change. With your help, these actions can be a catalyst for change at PepsiCo and throughout the entire snack food industry.
These actions may be big or small, in parks, on college campuses, homes, or at Pepsi branded locations around the world. They will each be unique, but they'll have a two things in common: they will include #InYourPalm in some way, shape or form and will connect local activists around the globe who are united in a goal to end rainforest destruction and human rights violations caused by the production of Conflict Palm Oil for PepsiCo's snacks foods.
Will you join me? Together we can convince PepsiCo to prioritize the future of our children and cut Conflict Palm Oil to save orangutans from extinction!