At 6.5 million acres, the Leuser Ecosystem is a world unto itself—a rich and verdant expanse of intact tropical lowland rainforests, cloud draped mountains and steamy peatlands. It is among the most biodiverse and ancient ecosystems ever documented by science, and it is the last place on Earth where Sumatran orangutans, elephants, tigers, rhinos and sun bears still roam side by side.
The Leuser Ecosystem exists at a tenuous crossroads. Palm oil plantations threaten its lowland rainforests and peatlands, as well as the continued wellbeing of the millions of Acehnese people who depend on it for their food, water and livelihoods.
A moratorium is urgently needed to halt the destruction of rainforests and peatlands for palm oil expansion in this global biodiversity hotspot.
The palm oil traders most at risk of trafficking Conflict Palm Oil sourced from the Leuser Ecosystem — Musim Mas Group, Wilmar International and Golden Agri-Resources — must break any ties to companies that continue to expand and destroy rainforests and peatlands in the Leuser Ecosystem.
Call on these three palm oil traders to enforce an immediate moratorium on the clearance of rainforests and peatlands in the Leuser Ecosystem today.
It’s time for Ralph Lauren to step up and eliminate forest destruction and human rights abuses from its supply chain. It’s critical that Ralph Lauren makes sure it is not sourcing fabrics from some of the worst forest destroyers in the world, and that it creates a policy that ensures that its fabric will always be free from controversy.
Ralph Lauren is a huge company with worldwide brand recognition. Now it’s time for Ralph Lauren to be a leader and make itself known for protecting forests and Indigenous rights.
Tell Ralph Lauren to clean up it’s act! Add your name to the right to send an email to the company demanding action for the forests. We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop as the campaign ramps up over the coming months.
At RAN, it isn’t our place to tell you what fabrics to buy. Really. All fabrics have impacts, and we aren’t experts in every fabric out there. What we believe is that clothing companies should trace their supply chains, eliminate controversial fiber and suppliers, create policies to ensure they never purchase controversial fiber again, and -- ideally -- join us in the fight to make their industry more sustainable.
In the meantime, we encourage customers to buy used, to recycle and up-cycle, to host clothing swaps, and to do without when and where they can.
Join us in continuing to call on the Fashion 15 to adopt comprehensive policies to eliminate forest destruction and human rights abuses from their supply chains.
And if you still want some more specific advice… well, we have some thoughts:
While we were researching this campaign, we looked into a number of different fabrics, and we definitely found that there are also a few fabrics that are gentler on the earth. Here’s what we found:
Hemp has a very low impact. It doesn’t require the use of any chemicals (pesticides or fertilizers) on their crops. It requires less water than organic cotton. Hemp is also much stronger than cotton, and creates a high quality material when recycled. Hemp can grow in a wide range of climates, making it widely available all over the world.
Ramie, also known as grass linen, is a very fast-growing crop. It yields up to six harvests per year, giving it a reputation for sustainability. Growing, spinning and weaving are expensive and intricate processes. Due to the involved nature and higher cost of taking ramie from plant to garment, it has yet to become a popular fabric.
Jute also treads lightly on the earth. It requires low energy input, and actually acts as a small C02 sink. Farming uses no chemicals on these crops. Jute is also being used to make other pulp and paper products, not just clothing. Due to demand for these products, jute’s importance could increase over the coming years.
Linen has a very low impact and requires very little to grow. Farmers use little or no pesticides at all on the flax plant, which becomes linen fiber. It also requires low quantities of water to grow. Linen also emits much lower levels of CO2, as compared with the cotton plant.
Organic cotton doesn’t use chemicals or GMOs, but there are questions about water usage and other impacts, including the chemicals used in manufacture and milling processes.
Bamboo has a low grow-impact on the soil, but requires high energy and chemical inputs. Most bamboo production involves toxic bleaching of the final product.
Recycled polyester/PET uses less energy to make clothes from recycled plastics, but there are problems with the toxic recycling process and the original manufacture of polyester/PET.
Soy can be organic and in those cases will use no pesticides. However, there are possible GMO impacts, and more information is needed before we can safely recommend it as an alternative.
These fabrics demonstrate what is possible in the world of forest-friendly fabric. These textiles have a small footprint, require low inputs and don’t rely on deforestation to produce. Ultimately, though, companies must trace their supply chains and develop full forest policies in order to truly eliminate any controversy from their fabric. You can call on the Fashion 15 today to do just that.
For further information, see:
This morning two dozen activists stormed a grocery store in San Francisco to convince Quaker, and its parent company PepsiCo, to cut Conflict Palm Oil.
The activists re-branded shelves displaying Quaker brand items to warn customers that Quaker products may contain Conflict Palm Oil. We need your help to amplify this call to action!
Activists storm a grocery store in San Francisco, calling for an end to Conflict Palm Oil in Quaker brand products.
PepsiCo, and its brand Quaker, spends huge amounts of money on advertising every year, trying to convince moms and dads that Quaker is a brand that we can trust, yet they are unwilling to spend a few extra pennies to help save orangutans from extinction and keep children out of slave labor conditions.
Will PepsiCo fix the gaps in its palm oil commitment and take action to help save orangutans and keep children out of slave labor conditions? With your voice, it will.
Post a message on Quaker’s Facebook page today:
“Quaker, families don’t want to eat Conflict Palm Oil. Spend a few extra pennies on every package to cut Conflict Palm Oil, save orangutans from extinction and keep children out of slave labor conditions.”
After two years of people like you taking action, PepsiCo is finally starting to pay attention and its top decision makers are deciding now whether to actually address these problems. That is why YOUR voice is needed right now.
With your help we can generate a storm on Quaker’s Facebook page and drive home the message that now is the time for this snack food giant to cut Conflict Palm Oil once and for all.
Behind the shiny exteriors and glossy magazine advertisements of American fashion brands hides some disturbing truths. Communities like those in Pandumaan-Sipituhuta in Northern Sumatra, featured in the short film below by Handcrafted Films, are being harmed by the production of clothing sold by big name companies like Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch, and other companies in RAN’s ‘Fashion 15.’
The clothing we buy is driving the destruction of the forests of Pandumaan-Sipituhuta, and decimating the way the communities there have supported themselves for 17 generations.
Here’s how the destruction of benzoin forests in Indonesia becomes part of our clothing:
We need to tell fashion companies that this sort of destruction is totally unacceptable. Some companies have already stepped up as leaders; H&M, Zara, Stella McCartney and others have already taken action and publically committed to eliminating rainforest destruction from their fabrics.
The Out of Fashion campaign is working for change on the ground in Pandumaan-Sipithuta, and to change the whole system. We need to tell fashion companies that they are responsible for their supply chains, and they must demand change at every level. For our Fashion 15, this means demanding changes from Toba Pulp Lestari (the producer), Sateri (the processor), and Royal Golden Eagle (the company that owns Sateri).
Timber planners on the Klamath National Forest are exploiting last summer’s wildfires to push an extreme logging proposal that calls for clearcutting old-growth reserves in key salmon strongholds.
Please stand with conservation groups, native tribes, watershed councils and fire ecologists to oppose the Forest Service rush to log at any cost.
The backbone of the Northwest Forest Plan is the idea that some special places would be set aside from logging while timber would be produced where logging would do the least harm.
The Klamath National Forest is hoping to throw out the rulebook by logging protected reserves to protect old-growth forests and geological reserves that prohibit logging on landslides and unstable slopes.
Ask the Forest Service to follow their own rules that protect important wildlands, wildlife and watersheds.
Underlines the need to understand and address severe land conflicts and the disconnect between policy commitments and real change on the ground.
Last Friday afternoon, February 27th, Indra Pelani, a 22 year-old from Lubuk Mandarsah village, Nick Karim from Simpang Niam village, and a member of WALHI, a Indonesian environmental group, attempted to pass through a gated checkpoint on a road which cuts through an Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) acacia plantation in the district of Tebo, Jambi Province, on the island of Sumatra. Indra and Karim were on their way to to join a rice harvest and festival.
According to witnesses, several company security guards set on Indra, a prominent farmers’ union member, beat him brutally about the head and ignored pleas from others to stop. According to witnesses, while Nick ran to get help and call the police, Indra was abducted by the guards. By the time Karim returned with roughly 30 villagers a short time later, Indra was missing and the security officer on duty denied knowing anything about the incident.
Police in Tebo district were alerted and conducted a search Friday evening. Indra's body was discovered the next day in a swamp, roughly 400 meters from the road. Indra's feet and hands were bound with rope and his mouth stuffed with a t-shirt. His body showed signs of severe beating. After his body was taken to a hospital, a preliminary examination showed that Indra had been further brutalized and stabbed and is presumed to have died from the injuries.
This tragic incident occurred on the eve of a planned meeting of stakeholders with APP in Jakarta. The meeting was to review APP’s implementation of its public commitments to obtain Free, Prior and Informed Consent from local communities for new plantation developments, resolve land conflicts and provide remedy for past land and human rights violations. Given the current situation, Forest People’s Programme, RAN, Greenpeace, and other civil society representatives have suspended participation in APP’s stakeholder meetings until this case has been satisfactorily investigated and addressed. As of now, APP has responded by publicly condemning the murder and suspending employment of all suspects, pending further investigation.
APP is a company with a long track record of driving deforestation and social conflict through its expansion of pulp plantations across Indonesia. Under growing international pressure, in 2013 the company committed to reform itself through the adoption of new policies to uphold human rights and to halt further deforestation in its operations. Since the announcement of its new policies, APP has begun presenting itself as a global leader in social and environmental responsibility. This incident tragically underscores the disconnect between good intentions reflected by APP’s policy pronouncements and the realities of how communities are treated at the hands ofthe company and its contractors on the ground. It is now clearer than ever that in order to break the link between commodity production and human rights violations it will take much more than a new policy in order to transform the company culture.
Land conflict and human rights violations are widespread across not only APP’s concessions, but those of its competitor APRIL, and indeed many if not most pulp and oil palm plantations. This is due in large part to failures in government policy and poor forest governance as well as corruption and irresponsible action by the private sector. APP must not only work with authorities to secure justice for Indra Pelani and his family, it must prioritize changing the culture and behavior of the company, its suppliers and contractors at the field level and improve and scale up its efforts to resolve conflicts, meaningfully involving affected communities, civil society and government. Addressing the broader legacy of land conflict in Indonesia and preventing conflict in the future is going to require widespread reforms by both government and the private sector and robust engagement with and leadership by communities and civil society.
Customer and investors linked to conflict commodities have a vital role to play not only by prioritizing human rights and establishing and implementing safeguards, but also by actively engaging directly with the companies with whom they have relationships on these issues, requiring changes on the ground as a condition of business and by encouraging government reform and action. This tragic incident is a wake up call for paper and palm customers and investors about the importance of including strong human rights safeguards and reform expectations in their purchasing requirements, verification efforts and discussions with governments.
On March 9 2015 APP took a tangible first step in addressing its role in Indra Pelani’s murder. The company is suspending operations in the area and is disengaging with the security contractor involved in the case.
While activists have achieved great successes recently in raising the profile of palm oil as a controversial commodity responsible for tremendous environmental destruction, the too-often overlooked reality is that the palm oil industry is also rife with serious labor and human rights abuses, including widespread forced and child labor as well as the unacceptable exploitation of millions of workers across Indonesia and Malaysia.
To address the urgent need for systemic change, Rainforest Action Network has spent the last two years working closely with an unprecedented coalition of Indonesian and Malaysian labor advocacy groups and international NGOs to develop a set of fair labor standards for palm oil production.
A result of these efforts is the publication of a guide, Free and Fair Labor in Palm Oil Production: Principles and Implementation Guidance, being released publicly for the first time now. It is the first statement of principles produced by a diverse civil society network that specifically focuses on labor conditions in the palm oil sector. This detailed set of standards will now be delivered as a set of recommendations to help guide companies, plantation certification bodies and government regulators towards eliminating systemic abuses currently common throughout the palm oil industry.
Throughout the long process of workshops and meetings that built consensus for these standards, participants shared heart-wrenching stories of severe health impacts from being forced to apply highly toxic chemical pesticides like paraquat, without proper protective equipment or training, especially among women. Workers spoke of widespread practices that include misleading and unethical labor recruitment, long grueling hours, unreasonable quotas, low wages, sub-standard housing conditions and a lack of access to basic necessities like clean drinking water, healthcare and education for children.
As more and more major players in the palm oil industry grapple with implementation of their recent No Exploitation, No Deforestation, No Peatlands commitments, it is crucial that labor voices are included as critical stakeholders in the process. Companies that produce, trade and source palm oil have a responsibility to do the work necessary to eliminate the pervasive labor abuses in their supply chains.
The principles and guidelines were based on the International Labor Organization’s core conventions and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Among the recommendations:
Eliminate of all forms of forced or compulsory labor;
Abolish the worst forms of child labor;
Respect freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining;
Provide all workers adequate protective equipment free of cost;
Provide adequate housing, water, medical, educational and welfare amenities and protective equipment free of cost for all workers;
Ban toxic, bio-accumulative pesticides;
Commit to reasonable working hours and progress toward payment of a living wage;
Practice ethical recruitment with no fees for workers or seizure of identity documents;
Establish a legitimate, accessible, and transparent grievance mechanism, consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; and
Commit to meaningful transparency and disclosure of all plantation processes.
The guide was developed by a forum of experts and key stakeholders hosted by Humanity United and comprised of representatives of unions, workers organizations, NGOs, investors and philanthropic organizations from the U.S, Europe, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Partner organizations include: Federasi Serikat Perkerja Minamas, Finnwatch, Firestone Agricultural Workers Union of Liberia, Forest Peoples Programme, General Agriculture and Allied Workers Union of Liberia, Humanity United, HUTAN, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, International Labor Rights Forum, Land Empowerment Animals People, Link-AR Borneo, MONDIAAL-FNV, Malaysian Palm Oil NGO Coalition, OPPUK, Oxfam, Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific, Rainforest Action Network, Sabah Environmental Protection Association, Sawit Watch, SERBUNDO, Serikat Buruh Medan Independen, Serikat Buruh Mandiri Indonesia, Tenaganita, Trade Union Care Center, Verité, and Walk Free, as well as advisory support from CERES.
Please stick with us as we will need your support as the real work begins of implementing these standards into business as usual for the global palm oil industry!
PepsiCo would have you believe that its brand Quaker Oats puts “wholesome goodness in everything we do.” We highly doubt that.
That Quaker Oats Chewy Bar in your child’s lunch? Well, we’re not sure if its full of wholesome goodness, but it certainly may be full of Conflict Palm Oil.
PepsiCo, and its product line Quaker Oats, is a major user of Conflict Palm Oil. Conflict Palm Oil drives species extinction, human rights abuses, deforestation, and climate change, and is the cause of one of the world’s greatest environmental catastrophes.
PepsiCo, the largest globally distributed snack food company in the world, spends huge amounts of money on advertising every year, trying to convince moms and dads that Quaker Oats is a brand that we can trust, yet they are unwilling to spend a few extra pennies to help save orangutans from extinction and keep children out of slave labor conditions.
As a globally recognized brand with an immense international reach, PepsiCo’s weak commitments and half measures are unacceptable. As mothers and fathers, we watch the future develop before our eyes every day. We know that our kids deserve better.
PepsiCo needs to start taking this issue seriously and cut Conflict Palm Oil from its products now!
Help us hold PepsiCo accountable for their actions. We need you to tell PepsiCo that you won’t be fooled by its advertising, and will keep Conflict Palm Oil out of your cupboards.
With the Oscars now behind us, Rainforest Action Network is doing some fashion policing of its own.
While all the nominees and winners looked fabulous, those gorgeous clothes can have a serious impact on forests and human rights. Controversial fabrics such as rayon, viscose, Tencel, lyocell, and modal are leaving their mark--not on the red carpet, but on endangered forests--and creating serious impacts for Indigenous communities.
Congrats, Rosamund - but we're worried about how that dress was made...
In order to address this, luxury brands like Prada, Michael Kors, Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch and Vince need to do the right thing and take responsibility for the consequences caused by their clothing.
Miles Teller had a great year with Whiplash - but forests worldwide did not.
That means stepping up with a forest friendly policy, one that traces the fiber used in their fabrics back to where it was grown, and eliminates suppliers found responsible for human rights abuses and deforestation - companies like Royal Golden Eagle Group and its subsidiaries like Sateri.
Emma Stone freaked out over her Oscar nomination for Birdman. But what she may not know is that those clothes could be connected to the theft of Indigenous land for fabric production, and that's truly freaky.
After thousands took action on social media last week, and hundreds of activists have been busy stickering clothing tags with deforestation warning labels across the country, luxury brands are starting to take notice.
We're glad to see Michael Keaton again. Unfortunately, many forests are gone forever, pulped and turned into fabric by big fashion names like Ralph Lauren.
We need to keep the pressure on. It’s past time for these companies to make real commitments to eliminate controversy from their supply chains. Doing so would send a powerful message, and make a huge impact for forests and the people who depend on them.