Not So Fast, Greenpeace

Niger Innis
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Posted: Sep 15, 2011 12:01 AM

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.

As I’ve stated before, the conservation-at-all-costs advocacy being promoted here by Greenpeace and WWF restricts economic development in poor parts of the world, and helps wealthy industries in developed economies. Plus, this biased advocacy raises the prices of basic consumer goods. Consequently, these policies harm low-income New Zealanders, those who spend a disproportionate portion of their salary on common household products like toilet paper. It’s a shame Greenpeace and its cohorts continue to induce poverty in developing economies, as well.

Hopefully Foodstuffs and Progressive Enterprises, a pair of companies that Greenpeace and its allies have now set their sights on as the next targets for this toilet paper campaign, will realize that this environmental activism is just another anti-growth ploy by the Green movement to further its harmful, pro-poverty agenda.

Additionally, speaking of FSC certification, the Walt Disney Company has also been forewarned in our recent report that we find FSC has not lived up to its own standards. Far from its alleged motto as the “gold-standard for responsible forest management,” FSC is seriously flawed. FSC products contain tropical forest species such as red lauan (shorea), a species listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Disney has, therefore, failed to protect the environment and, at the same time, has risked the economic livelihoods of thousands of families. Whether it’s Mickey and Minnie dolls or toilet paper, Greenpeace, WWF and FSC appear wholly unconcerned with the well-being of people around the world, especially those less fortunate.

Greenpeace’s latest stunt in New Zealand is yet another wake-up call for us all. Greenpeace and its brethren will stop at nothing to implement its myopic worldview. Well, I have a few closing words for these environmental extremists: stop your war on the poor.