by Dawn Quirk
Last month, Greenpeace released photos of a large stockpile of logs. It is an ugly picture, but hardly shocking for someone from Sweden, used to seeing logging trucks and trains whizz past. The logs’ origin and destiny is what makes the photos truly horrendous. Their origin is the Ogoki Forest, a region of the ancient Boreal Forest in Canada. Their destiny? The trash.According to Greenpeace, the stockpiles of ancient trees will be turned into pulp, and then turned into the paper products sold by the Kimberly-Clark Corporation. Kimberly-Clark owns many of the world’s most popular brands of disposable paper products intended for personal use, including Kleenex and Scott products.
In their July 2008 sustainability report, Kimberly-Clark claimed that most of their fiber comes from byproducts of the logging process, including chips and sawdust. These photos paint a different picture. Greenpeace gives further evidence of Kimberly-Clark’s forestry mismanagement with Canadian government data, which shows that Kimberly-Clark’s insatiable demand is causing logging to push even further into the virgin Ogoki region. This is especially devastating because the forest is the delicate habitat of the endangered woodland caribou.
However, the worst part of the trees’ story is its tragically abrupt end. From their pulp, Kimberly-Clark will make some paper products that are used less than a minute, and rarely more than a couple of seconds. Their tissues and toilet paper are designed to be thrown away directly after use. That such old, exceptional trees should have to meet such an end is undignified.
The question now becomes, what can you do about it? First of all, if this tragic tale has made you upset, don’t reach for that tissue box! The fact that people are buying these tissues is the key to a much larger problem. Therefore, first ask yourself if you really need to use disposable paper products, or if you can easily substitute reusable ones, like cloth handkerchiefs. If you decide to continue- an understandable choice in the case of toilet paper – insist on using only products made with recycled content and sustainable wood, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). You may chose to follow this simple advice on your own, or make your voice heard by supporting the campaign at http://www.kleercut.net/en/.
This leads me to wonder, does Tufts indirectly support Kimberly-Clark mismanagement by buying their products? What products do Tufts students really use? This deserves closer inspection…