FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES WARNED OF GREENWASH RISKNotice Advises of Deceptive Claims by “Sustainable Forestry Initiative”
Greenwashing by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is again under harsh scrutiny, this time in a trend-setting eco-conscious magazine and in the mailboxes of its target markets.
Last Friday ForestEthics mailed letters to Fortune 500 companies that rely heavily on direct mail to market their products and services, including companies from the insurance, financial services and telecommunications sectors.
Citing the growing public controversy about SFI's deceptive 'green' marketing practices, the letters offer ForestEthics' expertise to help companies find legitimate ways to safeguard their brands and promote the environmental attributes of their products. (Letter available by request.)
"SFI's greenwashing could be toxic for any brand associated with it," said Aaron Sanger of ForestEthics. "SFI is spending millions of dollars to market business as usual environmental destruction as 'green', and these misleading claims undermine the hard work and smart choices of any business making a sincere effort to be environmentally responsible."
To raise awareness globally about SFI's greenwashing, ForestEthics published an ad (view the full size ad) in this month's Boho Magazine, whose eco-conscious readers in over 37 countries were greeted with a full page ad depicting a window's view of a clearcut forest with the headline "You can see right through SFI's greenwash." SFI's soothingly 'green' logo is modified to incorporate imagery suggesting forest destruction.
Boho Magazine is the winner of the AVEDA Environmental award for Best New Launch and winner of the 2009 SustainPrint "Newcomer Magazine of the Year" award. It is the first fashion magazine to use 100% recycled post-consumer waste paper and be completely UV-coating free, with no glossy finishes and only use of soy-based inks. Boho is available at bookstores and newsstands nationwide, including Barnes & Noble, Borders, Whole Foods, and Target and in more than 37 countries.
Last November, ForestEthics released a large floating banner exposing SFI as a greenwasher at Greenbuild, the world's largest green building conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The group also ran an ad in USA Today's Phoenix edition spotlighting SFI's greenwashing practice of certifying forest destruction as 'sustainable'.
These actions add powerful visual elements to a campaign that began in September when ForestEthics filed legal complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that became the focus of an article in the New York Times on September 12.
In its FTC complaint, ForestEthics described how SFI, funded and managed primarily by large logging companies, gives its seal of approval to the logging practices of these same companies that harm people and wildlife, damage water resources and destroy forests.
The report submitted to the IRS focused on SFI's nonprofit status, as SFI's funding and activities serve the private interests of wood and paper companies that want a 'green' image. This is not a proper purpose for an organization with the same nonprofit status that the IRS gives to public charities.