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FORTUNE 500 COMPANIES WARNED OF GREENWASH RISK
Notice Advises of Deceptive Claims by “Sustainable Forestry Initiative”
Greenwashing by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is again under harsh scrutiny, this time in a trend-setting eco-conscious magazine and in the mailboxes of its target markets.
On March 5th, ForestEthics mailed letters to Fortune 500 companies that rely heavily on direct mail to market their products and services, including companies from the insurance, financial services and telecommunications sectors.
Citing the growing public controversy about SFI's deceptive 'green' marketing practices, the letters offer ForestEthics' expertise to help companies find legitimate ways to safeguard their brands and promote the environmental attributes of their products.
"SFI's greenwashing could be toxic for any brand associated with it," said Aaron Sanger of ForestEthics. "SFI is spending millions of dollars to market business as usual environmental destruction as 'green', and these misleading claims undermine the hard work and smart choices of any business making a sincere effort to be environmentally responsible."
In September when ForestEthics filed legal complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that became the focus of an article in the New York Times on September 12.
In October, the Sierra Club also filed a complaint with SFI, presenting scientific evidence that SFI certified logging by Weyerhaeuser on extremely steep and unstable mountainsides in SW Washington despite publicly available evidence that these areas were prone to landslides. In a major regional rainstorm in December 2007, massive landslides did occur on logging sites certified by SFI as sustainable, producing downstream logjams and record flooding.
In its FTC complaint, ForestEthics described how SFI, funded and managed primarily by large logging companies, gives its seal of approval to the logging practices of these same companies that harm people and wildlife, damage water resources and destroy forests.
The report submitted to the IRS focused on SFI's nonprofit status, as SFI's funding and activities serve the private interests of wood and paper companies that want a 'green' image. This is not a proper purpose for an organization with the same nonprofit status that the IRS gives to public charities.
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