I have a few words for Greenpeace as it conducts its latest radical campaign in the Asia-Pacific: not so fast. Not surprisingly, the pressure group’s slick toilet paper campaign that rolled into New Zealand with a bang last month is based on a series of myths.
How so? Well Greenpeace’s latest assault here on New Zealand-based toilet paper manufacturer Cottonsoft stems from the NGO’s erroneous belief that the company isn’t sourcing its paper and pulp products properly. Greenpeace, and its activist cousin World Wildlife Fund (WWF), contend that companies of all colors should source their forest-derived materials from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified sources only.
This is hypocrisy at its best.
This past July, I authored a report that revealed FSC-labeled paper supported by Greenpeace and WWF contains endangered tropical species in its allegedly environmentally-safe, certified products. In Stop the War on the Poor – FSC and NGOs: Environmental Mythology, our results show that FSC and its Green supporters engage in the same practices it accuses its competitors of engaging. And this moral hazard, therefore, completely wrecks the image that Greenpeace and WWF wish to portray about their own standards.
Sadly, Big Green has scored a victory in pressuring Cottonsoft to stop its business agreement with one of its toilet paper suppliers. Carrying the banner of non-transparent, conflicted and anti-trade FSC certification, Green activists have levied false claims of deforestation, habitat destruction and the other, usual talking points espoused by environmental crusaders, to make this case.
At the other end of the supply chain in this dispute is The Warehouse, another New Zealand company engaged in the bargain retail business. Its decision to stop sourcing its toilet paper from Cottonsoft represents a huge failure by the company to recognize what is at stake: the livelihoods of poor workers in Southeast Asia and affordable products for low-income consumers in New Zealand. On behalf of the poor in Asia-Pacific affected by this decision, I urge The Warehouse to change its course and take a stand for economic growth, not extreme environmentalism.