Activists from Greenpeace USA and the Harvard Environmental Action Committee (EAC) protested yesterday about the use of non-recycled, old-growth wood pulp in tissue products produced by Kimberly-Clark Corporation—the world’s largest manufacturer of tissue products. The groups also protested the provision of the federal budget reconciliation bill that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), a protected wilderness area in Alaska, to oil exploration.
The event drew nearly 40 Harvard undergraduates who were asked to call Kimberly-Clark executives and Cambridge’s congressional representatives. At the end of the event, a group of 21 students joined the event organizers for a photo, clad in Harvard sweatshirts and posing behind a large Greenpeace banner.
The Greenpeace campaign was an effort to use current Harvard students to pressure Marc J. Shapiro ’69, a member of the Kimberly-Clark Board of Directors, and Ken A. Strassner, the company’s vice-president for Environment and Energy, to make Kimberly-Clark use environmentally-friendly wood pulp.
Though also an alumnus, Kimberly-Clark board member Robert W. Decherd ’73 is not a target of the activists, said Tyga J. Hunter, a Greenpeace volunteer.
According to a report commissioned by Greenpeace, Kimberly-Clarke relies on recycled sources for just 19 percent of its wood pulp. Common Kimberly-Clarke brands—such as Kleenex, Viva, Scott, and Cottonelle—come from 100 percent non-recycled sources, according to the report.
Greenpeace activist Hunter said that other companies—including Staples and CVS—use much larger shares of post-consumer wood pulp in manufacturing their products. The low post-consumer content, plus Kimberly-Clark’s use of tree fiber from Canada’s ancient Boreal forest, has made the company the target of a joint campaign run by Greenpeace USA and Greenpeace Canada.
“We want students to know that when they use Kleenex and other products from Kimberly-Clark, they are buying [into] ancient forest destruction,” Hunter said.
A Kimberly-Clark spokesman said that the company is being unfairly targeted by the activists, pointing out that it draws less than 15 percent of its fiber from the Canadian Boreal forest.
“The small percentage of Boreal fiber we use is harvested responsibly and is promptly reforested,” company spokesman David J. Dickson wrote in an e-mail. He also said that lumber companies are to blame for deforestation in Canada, writing that “[a]ccording to the Canadian Forest Service, 83 percent of all trees harvested in Canada in 2000 were used to produce lumber to build homes.”
The second half of the event—focused on arctic oil drilling—was run by the EAC as part of a national campaign urging Congress to reject the fiscal year 2006 budget reconciliation bill. The reconciliation bill, which would open the ANWR to oil drilling, has already been passed by both the House of Representatives and Senate in slightly different versions. It has since been referred to a conference committee.
“We’re asking students to call their elected representatives [to ask them] to oppose the reconciliation bill,” said Ann E. Kurrasch ’07, director of the EAC’s justice campaign. “[This] campaign is a part of national effort to get people to express their opposition to drilling in the arctic.”