Wetlands, Rainforest Relief, and Angry Wolf Invade Office Depot, Join 75 Store Day of Protest Condeming Company's Misleading Environmental Claims

Company’s Policy Falls Far Short of Industry Leader Staples, Inc.; Threatens Endangered Forests Worldwide

On October 8th, 2003, Wetlands Activism Collective and Rainforest Relief joined The Paper Campaign – a national coalition of citizens, outdoor enthusiasts, students, environmentalists and religious leaders – for a national day of protest, including actions at more than 75 locations across the country decrying the company’s misleading ‘commitment’ to endangered forests.

In addition to picketing outside the store, activists, joined by an angry wolf incensed by the company's destruction of her forest habitat, entered the store to hold signs, chant, disseminate flyers, and educate customers on Office Depot's complicity in forest detruction.

Office Depot’s controversial environmental policy, which was released in April, 2003, contains such a narrow definition of endangered forests that it virtually guarantees the destruction of them. For example, the policy permits the destruction of endangered forests like the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, Canada’s Boreal forest, and the forests of the American Southeast.

Instead of joining the ranks of industry leaders including Staples, Kinko’s, Home Depot and Boise, and developing a policy that ensures real protection for endangered forests, Office Depot has chosen to mislead the public through the use of complex industry language that, while sounding progressive, does not actually protect the world’s last remaining old-growth and native forests. In layman’s terms, Office Depot’s policy says that the more abundant a forest is, the less important it is. Following that logic, a forest like the Boreal forest of Canada, the second largest intact forest in the world and critical habitat for 40% of North’s America’s songbirds, as well as a key regulator of global climate, does not need to be protected.

“Office Depot has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars buffing up its discredited environmental image. Instead of protecting its image, Office Depot should be protecting endangered forests,” stated Todd Paglia of ForestEthics. “The fact is that this company indiscriminately liquidates forests for profit. It can try to dress that up however it wants, but it’s not a pretty picture.”

The Paper Campaign, which began in 1999 and first focused its attention on office supply giant, Staples Inc., joined that company last year to announce its historic environmental policy – a first for the office supply industry. In Staples’ policy, the company commits to the protection of the world’s last remaining endangered forests and to achieving an overall average of 30% recycled content for the paper it sells Office Depot’s policy is strong on a recycled commitment, but lacks real protection for endangered forests and is therefore falls far below the industry standard.

“If Office Depot has its way, all that will be left of the South’s last remaining intact forests are small islands lost in a sea of clearcuts,” said Danna Smith, Campaign Director for Dogwood Alliance. “Places like the majestic hardwood forests of the Cumberland Plateau would end up as paper on Office Depot’s shelves rather than receiving the protection they deserve.”

The Paper Campaign’s efforts to change the environmental practices of the office-supply sector has included more than 600 protests at stores nationwide, ads featuring rock legends R.E.M., and thousands of letters and calls directed to the company’s CEO. It has been featured in major news outlets including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, LA Times, Jim Lehrer News Hour and many regional publications.

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