ForestEthics vs. SFI – The Battle Goes On

What do the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)—certifier for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) design and construction—Aetna, Allstate, United Stationers, Symantec, Garnet Hill Catalog, Performance Bicycles and Office Depot all have in common? They all are choosing to forego SFI-certified products.

ForestEthics has described the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) label as “greenwashing,” and said the certification’s requirements permit practices that are harmful to the environment. The non-profit also alleges that the SFI misleads the public, operating as a non-profit charity even though the initiative primarily serves and receives funding from for-profit interests.

Is SFI simply greenwashing? ForestEthics has published a report (“SFI: Certified Greenwash” PDF) that it says, “uncovers the origin, funding sources, staffing and leadership of SFI.” The report looks at SFI’s relationships with paper and timber interests and disputes the organization’s claims of independences.

In response, the “Conservation Chamber” of the SFI Board has distributed an open letter refuting ForestEthics’ assertions. It reads:

As members of the Conservation Chamber of SFI’s Board of Directors, we take strong exception to ForestEthics’ current campaign against SFI.

It is precisely the power of SFI to sustain fish and wildlife, biodiversity, water quality and, ecosystem functions (including mitigating and adapting to climate change) on 180 million acres of forest throughout North American that motivates us to serve on SFI’s board. By serving, we help SFI continue to improve an already strong mechanism to conserve forests and their environmental values.

Groups that spread misinformation about SFI could well be harming the forest environment. SFI provides a tremendous amount of on-the-ground conservation value — a value North Americans care deeply about. We believe SFI and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) are both excellent mechanisms that improve the environmental (and social and economic) values provided by forests.† There is room and need for both programs.

A business adviser and problem solver, Gail is managing director of Business Strategies Etc., which provides strategic marketing and business planning services and manages the execution of marketing communications tactics that help companies:
• Define their sustainability strategies,
• Deliver a positive, sustainable image,
• Gain credibility, trust and respect, and
• Measure the results of their green initiatives and actions.

Gail is a nationally recognized speaker on a wide range of subjects and brings enthusiasm and a unique blend of experience to the podium. As an industry analyst and journalist contributing to publications in the United States, Canada, India and Brazil, she has covered a number of beats, particularly sustainability in printing and mailing, print on demand, variable data printing and direct mail.