Giant Post-It Note Tells 3M to ‘Do the Right Thing’ for Forests

On the morning of October 7 two highly-trained climbers rappelled down the side of Minneapolis’ Washington Avenue Bridge and unfurled a gigantic 40 x 40’ Post-It Note launching a new campaign against the destructive environmental practices of 3M, the St-Paul based corporate giant that produces Post-It Notes and Scotch Tape. The banner, a 1,600 foot square of iconic yellow that hung about the Mississippi river for more than four hours, revealed that 3M has already checked off “Destroy forests,” “Pollute communities,” and “Mislead customers w/ SFI” on its ‘To Do’ List. But it still hasn’t gotten around to the last item: “Do the Right Thing.”
From: ForestEthics
October 21st, 2013 | 4 Comments

On the morning of October 7 two highly-trained climbers rappelled down the side of Minneapolis’ Washington Avenue Bridge and unfurled a gigantic 40 x 40’ Post-It Note launching a new campaign against the destructive environmental practices of 3M, the St-Paul based corporate giant that produces Post-It Notes and Scotch Tape. The banner, a 1,600 foot square of iconic yellow that hung about the Mississippi river for more than four hours, revealed that 3M has already checked off “Destroy forests,” “Pollute communities,” and “Mislead customers w/ SFI” on its ‘To Do’ List. But it still hasn’t gotten around to the last item: “Do the Right Thing.”

The campaign should certainly come as no surprise to 3M. The company consumes large amounts of forests to manufacture its 55,000 different products. As a larger buyer of pulp and paper, 3M also influences the broader market. ForestEthics has pressed 3M for constructive engagement for years, but the behemoth has yet to budge.

ForestEthics has over a decade of experience helping large companies to better protect the world’s forests successfully persuading over a hundred corporations, including Walgreens, Staples and Home Depot, to purchase forest products from more environmentally responsible sources and to reject the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), a cynical public relations scheme that’s funded and governed by the timber industry – and aimed to take advantage of consumers who want to do the right thing for the environment.

Post-It Notes are in most offices—and homes—around the world. Given the brand’s power and potency, 3M has a responsibility to demonstrate real environmental leadership. But 3M’s actual practices stand in stark contrast to the green image it markets to consumers who want to be conscientious with their purchasing. 90% of Post-It Note products contain no recycled content. Zero. That is not environmental leadership—it’s outdated and egregious behavior in the 21st century. Post-It and 3M proudly market their use of the logging industry’s phony SFI eco-label, even when they know SFI certification allows for destructive practices like massive clearcuts, spraying toxic herbicides, and harming wildlife.

SFI certification isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. The deceptive green scheme is designed to conceal from consumers the clear-cut old-growth forests, the land saturated with toxic herbicides that poison communities, workers, wildlife, and insects, the monocropped GMO tree plantations that wipe out biodiversity and resistance to disease and fire, and the landslides and polluted fisheries that are all the routine byproducts of their corporate clients’ forestry practices.

SFI is an industry-run eco-scam designed to trick people who don’t want their purchases to destroy the planet, but who don’t have the time or information to sort out all the environmental claims that bombard them on every aisle. Independent certification systems were supposed to allow consumers to distinguish genuinely sustainable products from those merely decorated with empty claims, like “natural” or “green.” 3M betrays its customers’ trust when it uses SFI to mislead them into thinking its products are “good for forests.”

When ForestEthics first engaged 3M, it simply asked the company to stop promoting the timber industry’s SFI greenwashing. 3M refused. As ForestEthics dug deeper, the more it found 3M’s connections to the destruction of endangered forests around the world. 3M will now be forced to thoroughly and comprehensively address its role in deforestation. The banner hang is just the beginning. With the support of grassroots activists around the country and world, ForestEthics will continue to ratchet up pressure on 3M. Together, we will put the 3M and Post-It brand at such risk that 3M will be forced to act.

There is a solution to 3M’s greenwashing problem that benefits forests, consumers, and 3M itself. 3M can become forest friendly by rejecting the hollow SFI certification and working with ForestEthics to develop a paper sourcing policy that prioritizes recycled, post-consumer waste, and paper certified by a credible forest certification like the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC). Starting immediately, environmentally conscious consumers are encouraged to contact 3M to demand 3M do the right thing for forests.

Jim Ace is a Senior Campaigner with ForestEthics. ForestEthics is a non-profit organization devoted to public engagement, outreach and environmental advocacy – including political advocacy. They secure large-scale protection of endangered forests and wild places and transform environmentally destructive resource-extraction industries. For more information: www.forestethics.org

  • Dave Shires

    You guys would be taken a lot more seriously if you didn’t resort to such hyperbole. There really aren’t any facts here nor anything I can easily find on your website that says anything other than “corporate = bad”. I’m not saying “corporate = good” but there’s nothing there giving me any reason to take this seriously.

  • Jason Metnik

    TriplePundit readers should know that “ForestEthics” is an attack group that accepts hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and spread misinformation about the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). It is disappointing that TriplePundit would post a piece that includes flat-out falsehoods to draw a false distinction between SFI and FSC.

    First, SFI is not “industry-run.” SFI is an independent nonprofit organization governed by an 18-member Board of Directors (http://bit.ly/16AaeYW) with three chambers (six board members each) equally representing environmental, social and economic perspectives. Our board includes representatives of the Conservation Fund, the Wildlife Society, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Bird Studies Canada, the Manomet Center for Conservation Studies, former Deans of Forestry Schools and the State Forester of Maryland.

    SFI is widely accepted and recognized by these and other science-based conservation organizations and forest experts for its work with thousands of individuals and hundreds of organizations across North America to improve and implement best management practices for water quality, to support conservation research, to train loggers in responsible forestry, and to work with landowners on habitat protection.

    By promoting responsible forest management among all parties with a stake in the future of our forests — from landowners to brandowners, from environmental groups to loggers, from state foresters to indigenous groups, from forestry companies to labor unions — SFI has grown to become the world’s leading single forest certification standard. In North America, more than 240 million acres are certified to the SFI Standard or a standard that SFI recognizes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Association of State Foresters and other authorities all say that SFI, FSC and other credible certification programs can all be accepted as evidence of sustainable forestry.

    To address specific falsehoods and misleading assertions by ForestEthics:

    · The SFI Standard includes special requirements to protect old-growth forests.
    · The SFI Standard prohibits conversion to non-forest uses except in justified circumstances where it is documented that ecological impacts are not significant.
    · The SFI Standard includes strict requirements related to minimizing chemical use, including the use of least toxic and narrowest spectrum pesticides and the use of integrated pest management wherever feasible, and using only those chemicals that are approved by federal, state, and local governments.
    · The SFI Standard allows for clearcuts in working forests only where appropriate and when other requirements are met (e.g., protection of wildlife habitat, site productivity, biodiversity, size restrictions, etc.). By contrast, FSC has no clear-cut size restrictions on over 45% of the land certified to FSC standards — including FSC standards in parts of Canada, Russia, Sweden, and Brazil; you can see photos of FSC clear-cuts here (http://bit.ly/1fYv50x).
    · There are no SFI-certified forests that include genetically modified organisms (GMO). GMO forest products are not commercially available in North America. SFI lands are certified only in North America.
    ForestEthics’ falsehoods risk undermining not only SFI but also FSC and forest certification in general, as buyers and consumers hear the noise and get turned off of the entire notion of third-party certification for sustainable forestry. When that happens, the good work of thousands of individuals and organizations working to provide clean water, thriving forests, wildlife habitat, strong communities and jobs is compromised. At a time when 90% of the world’s forests remain uncertified, we should all work together to support credible forest certification programs – including SFI and FSC.

    Note that even beyond our forest standard, SFI works to promote responsible forestry in many ways: through our Chain of Custody and certified sourcing labels (http://bit.ly/1a5dtYy); by investing in conservation research (http://bit.ly/1aJIwdz);by working with major purchasers of forest products (http://bit.ly/1iin3wg) to increase certification and responsible practices across the supply chain;and by working directly with communities (http://bit.ly/Hi4n4I) to educate and to encourage better forestry practices.

    SFI is proud of the work we do for the future of our forests. We invite ForestEthics to stop misleading people and instead join SFI and hundreds of thousands of stakeholders around the world who are working day in and day out to advance the cause of sustainable forestry.

    Learn more about SFI and get the facts at http://www.sfiprogram.org/get-the-facts/

    Jason Metnick
    Vice President, Customer Affairs
    Sustainable Forestry Initiative

  • Jason Metnick

    TriplePundit readers should know that “ForestEthics” is an attack group that accepts hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and spread misinformation about the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). It is disappointing that TriplePundit would post a piece that includes flat-out falsehoods to draw a false distinction between SFI and FSC.

    First, SFI is not “industry-run.” SFI is an independent nonprofit organization governed by an 18-member Board of Directors (http://bit.ly/16AaeYW) with three chambers (six board members each) equally representing environmental, social and economic perspectives. Our board includes representatives of the Conservation Fund, the Wildlife Society, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Bird Studies Canada, the Manomet Center for Conservation Studies, former Deans of Forestry Schools and the State Forester of Maryland.

    SFI is widely accepted and recognized by these and other science-based conservation organizations and forest experts for its work with thousands of individuals and hundreds of organizations across North America to improve and implement best management practices for water quality, to support conservation research, to train loggers in responsible forestry, and to work with landowners on habitat protection.

    By promoting responsible forest management among all parties with a stake in the future of our forests — from landowners to brandowners, from environmental groups to loggers, from state foresters to indigenous groups, from forestry companies to labor unions — SFI has grown to become the world’s leading single forest certification standard. In North America, more than 240 million acres are certified to the SFI Standard or a standard that SFI recognizes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Association of State Foresters and other authorities all say that SFI, FSC and other credible certification programs can all be accepted as evidence of sustainable forestry.

    To address specific falsehoods and misleading assertions by ForestEthics:

    · The SFI Standard includes special requirements to protect old-growth forests.
    · The SFI Standard prohibits conversion to non-forest uses except in justified circumstances where it is documented that ecological impacts are not significant.
    · The SFI Standard includes strict requirements related to minimizing chemical use, including the use of least toxic and narrowest spectrum pesticides and the use of integrated pest management wherever feasible, and using only those chemicals that are approved by federal, state, and local governments.
    · The SFI Standard allows for clearcuts in working forests only where appropriate and when other requirements are met (e.g., protection of wildlife habitat, site productivity, biodiversity, size restrictions, etc.). By contrast, FSC has no clear-cut size restrictions on over 45% of the land certified to FSC standards — including FSC standards in parts of Canada, Russia, Sweden, and Brazil; you can see photos of FSC clear-cuts here (http://bit.ly/1fYv50x).
    · There are no SFI-certified forests that include genetically modified organisms (GMO). GMO forest products are not commercially available in North America. SFI lands are certified only in North America.
    ForestEthics’ falsehoods risk undermining not only SFI but also FSC and forest certification in general, as buyers and consumers hear the noise and get turned off of the entire notion of third-party certification for sustainable forestry. When that happens, the good work of thousands of individuals and organizations working to provide clean water, thriving forests, wildlife habitat, strong communities and jobs is compromised. At a time when 90% of the world’s forests remain uncertified, we should all work together to support credible forest certification programs – including SFI and FSC.

    Note that even beyond our forest standard, SFI works to promote responsible forestry in many ways: through our Chain of Custody and certified sourcing labels (http://bit.ly/1a5dtYy); by investing in conservation research (http://bit.ly/1aJIwdz);byworking with major purchasers of forest products (http://bit.ly/1iin3wg) to increase certification and responsible practices across the supply chain;and by working directly with communities (http://bit.ly/Hi4n4I) to educate and to encourage better forestry practices.

    SFI is proud of the work we do for the future of our forests. We invite ForestEthics to stop misleading people and instead join SFI and hundreds of thousands of stakeholders around the world who are working day in and day out to advance the cause of sustainable forestry.

    Learn more about SFI and get the facts at http://www.sfiprogram.org/get-

    Jason Metnick
    Vice President, Customer Affairs
    Sustainable Forestry Initiative

  • Atom

    Wow, strong reaction to forest ethics. Well, SFI jumps to 3M’s defence, predictably, that is what it was made for. As for all the hyperbole, what about this, for example: “90% of Post-It Note products contain no recycled content”. Is it true or isn’t it? It sure sounds like 3M hasn’t been keeping up with the times and is due for valid criticism.