Friday, August 28, 2009 says International Paper the Next Monsanto drew attention today to International Paper and their ArborGen partnership to develop genetically engineered trees for industrial plantations. The article touts ArborGen's exceptional prospects as an investment. It practically says "run, don't walk" to buy ArborGen stock. However, the article fails to note significant risk factors, including the immense ecological risks of this "Frankentree" technology and the overwhelming public opposition.

This article is a troublesome sign that genetically engineered trees are a severe threat to native biodiversity today, and no longer something that might come tomorrow. It begins with a chilling statement...

"International Paper Co., the world’s largest pulp and paper maker, plans to remake commercial forests in the same way Monsanto Co. revolutionized farms with genetically modified crops."
International Paper and Arborgen can expect a fight with scientists, citizens and conservation groups though. Over 100 organizations worldwide support a Vision for the paper industry that explicitly excludes genetically engineered trees. They believe that to take such incredible ecological risks, in order to sustain a level of consumption that is unnecessary and wasteful, is reckless and irresponsible. We don't need Frankentrees to meet our needs and have a comfortable life.

Recently, nearly 17,500 public comments were sent to the US Department of Agriculture opposing their recommendation for approval of an ArborGen proposal to plant over a quarter of a million genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees. Only 39 favorable comments were received by the USDA. If allowed, the plantings would take place on 330 acres of land across seven states in the Southern U.S., to supposedly feed future cellulosic ethanol production. All but one of the field trials would be allowed to flower and produce seeds.

While the forecast for ArborGen's share value looks bright, things don't look so good for the forests of the southern U.S. The article goes on to say...
"The papermaker’s main interest in ArborGen is the potential of modified trees such as cold-tolerant eucalyptus to provide a sustainable source of hardwood for pulp, Liebetreu said. That becomes more important as the U.S. starts to make biofuels from timber, which may double harvest pressure in the U.S. South, International Paper said in a June 9 letter to USDA."
The Stop GE Trees Campaign is working to watchdog and organize action on this issue, and encourages you to share this Bloomberg article on your social media networks.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

3rd Annual Green Grades Report Card Asks Companies: What's In Your Paper?

Companies active in the multi-billion dollar office supply sector got their report cards today, and while FedEx Office and Office Depot shored up their brands with impressive 'green' grades, companies like PaperlinX and came up short on critical environmental factors, earning less than a 'D' grade in each of the report card's six categories.

Download the report card here:

Since 2007, environmental groups ForestEthics and Dogwood Alliance have collaborated on the Green Grades office supply report card to inform American consumers and large purchasers of office supply products about which companies' paper practices safeguard the environment and the world’s forests.

"Companies like FedEx Office, Unisource, Office Depot, United Stationers, and Target have used their purchasing power to stop the purchase of paper from some of the world's most destructive companies," said Daniel Hall of ForestEthics. "Unfortunately, companies like Xpedx and continue to fund forest destruction. And while Wal-Mart has made great strides on other environmental factors, they fall short on their paper practices."

This year's grades reflect that more companies recognize the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as the most authoritative and credible forest certification system. Several companies are shifting their purchasing toward FSC-certified paper-and away from forest sources certified by the industry-driven Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification scheme. SFI's reputation for crafting certifications to fit a destructive industry status quo has increasingly called into question its viability as a symbol of sustainability.

This year's report card also finds the sector moving away from bad actors including International Paper, a company notorious for reckless forest conversion and Endangered Forest logging in the Southern US, and also Asia Pulp & Paper, a company that continuously courts controversy for destroying endangered wildlife habitat and indigenous communities in Indonesia. Additionally, several companies have made efforts to avoid paper sourced from important caribou habitat in the Canadian Boreal Forest, the world's largest terrestrial ecosystem, including forests logged by Abitibi'Bowater.

In a special 'Greenwash' section, paper wholesalers Xpedx and PaperlinX are called out for making boasts about their sustainability positions that are not borne out by the facts, and that mislead customers who are looking to green their businesses, supply chains, and personal consumption.

"When environmental laggards exaggerate or distort claims of being green, they undercut the hard-earned achievements of the companies whose values are demonstrably greener than the rest," said Andrew Goldberg of Dogwood Alliance. "But a number of companies in this report card talk a green game while supporting destructive paper companies like International Paper and hiding behind less than credible certifications like those of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What's In Your Paper....Coffin??

The Ecopod is a revolutionary and beautiful new design in coffins that brings together artisan skills with style, elegance and a respect for the environment.

Made by hand from recycled newspapers and hand finished with paper made from recycled silk and mulberry leaves, the Ecopod is available in a range of colours with screen printed motifs, plain white, or gold.

The Ecopod is suitable for cremation, or burial in woodland sites or traditional cemeteries, and biodegrades naturally over time when placed in the ground.

EcoPod also manufacture the ARKA Acorn Urn for the storage of ashes after cremation and, like the Ecopod, the urns are made from recycled paper, available in a number of colours and fully biodegradable.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Phone Book and Yellow Pages Rage Continues to Grow

A coherent "green rant" from the blog, Inhabitat, on phone book paper...

"Inspiration for this rant landed on doorsteps in my area a few weeks ago, and has been sitting there, becoming increasingly soggy and unsightly ever since. Digging around the internet I found that many other people are also upset about the massive yellow and white phone books forced upon them. Some areas even have four or five phone directory companies distributing books to each residence! Maybe the contract companies hired to drop off the books do not have the resources to consider individual addresses in metropolitan areas like Philadelphia, where I reside, but the litter created globally by the mass amounts of unwanted phone books seems inexcusable. Wanting to know who I could point a finger at, I set out to find the root cause of the issue."

Friday, August 07, 2009

Triple Pundit Offers Good Tips to Get More from Paper Calculator

The best tool out there to quickly calculate the environmental savings of changing your paper choices is the Paper Calculator from Environmental Defense. The tool is used heavily by companies to communicate to everyone from senior management and to consumers the tangible benefit towards environmental goals that looking at what's in your paper can deliver.

Triple Pundit Blog
on Monday offered some great advice on how the non-expert person can use the Calculator more easily and get extremely valuable information from it. Check it out....

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Invasion of GE Trees - Hightower Commentary

This is commentary from Jim Hightower's radio minute on the invasion of Genetically Engineered trees on their way to the Southern US... click the link to listen or just read the transcript below. Special thanks to The Stop GE Trees campaign for making this happen and getting permission for the repost...


(Listen to Hightower's commentary)

Here's a great idea: Let's bring into our country a genetically-engineered, non-native tree that is known to be wildly invasive, explosively flammable, and insatiably thirsty for ground water. Then let's clone thousands of these living firecrackers and plant them in forested regions across seven Southern states, allowing them to grow, flower, produce seeds, and spread into native environments.

Yes, this would be irresponsible, dangerous, and stupid - but apparently "Irresponsible, Dangerous, and Stupid" is the unofficial slogan of the U.S. Department Agriculture. In May, with little consideration of the devastating consequences for our native environment, USDA cavalierly rubberstamped a proposal by a profiteering corporation named ArborGen to do all of the above.

Substantially owned by International Paper, ArborGen shipped tissue from Brazilian eucalyptus trees to its New Zealand laboratories, where it was genetically altered to have more cellulose. New Zealand, however, outlaws plantings of genetically-engineered crops, so ArborGen sought out a more corporate-compliant country: Ours. The engineered eucalyptus was waved right into the good ol' USA to be cloned, and it's now awaiting final approval for outdoor release in our land.

This has happened with practically no media coverage or public participation. It is happening solely because a handful of global speculators hope to profit by making ethanol from cellulose-enhanced eucalyptus - never mind that their self-aggrandizement would put America's native forests in danger of irreversible contamination by these destructive, invasive Frankentrees.

This is Jim Hightower saying... Luckily, several scrappy grassroots groups have mobilized to bring common sense and public pressure to bear on USDA. For updates and action items, visit

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Greenpeace and Kimberly-Clark Reach Agreement

Canada's precious Boreal Forest is better conserved today. So are ancient forests around the world.

At a joint news conference in Washington DC, Greenpeace and the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, the world’s largest tissue-product manufacturer, announced an historic agreement that will ensure greater protection and sustainable management of Canada's Boreal Forest. The agreement also will stand out as a model for forest-products companies worldwide.

After five years of relentless campaigning by Greenpeace, which is chronicled in an impressive visual timeline on their website, this is a tremendous victory for the movement to transform the pulp and paper industry.

Congratulations Greenpeace, and kudos to Kimberly-Clark for committing to these significant changes. The success of the discussions between Greenpeace and Kimberly-Clark means a movement away from conflict to a new collaborative relationship to further promote forest conservation, responsible forest management, and the use of recycled fiber for the manufacture of tissue products.

“I am looking forward to working with Kimberly-Clark on the full implementation of this policy. Because of Kimberly-Clark’s size - it uses more than 4.5 million tonnes of fibre and pulp each year to make it products -, this new policy will have a profound effect on the global forest products industry.”-Richard Brooks, Greenpeace

Under the policy Kimberly-Clark has set a goal of ensuring that 100 per cent of the fibre used in its products will be from environmentally responsible sources. It will greatly increase its use of recycled fibre and fibre from forest certified to Forest Stewardship Council standards. By 2011, it will also increase the use of recycled and FSC fibre [from North America sources] to 40 per cent from 29.7 per cent in 2007. By 2012, the company will no longer use pulp from the Boreal Forest unless is it certified to the standards of the Forest Stewardship Council.

The full policy and its annex can be downloaded here

Please join us in thanking Kimberly-Clark for supporting conservation of the Boreal Forest by sending its CEO a congratulations email