Start Local, Go Global

The following is a list of the several ways that we indirectly contribute to deforestation:

Bertin is a massive beef exporting company and owns most of Brazil’s beef industry.  Every year, it slaughters about 1.2 million cattle and ships the meat to countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the U.S.  It constantly deforests the Amazon for cattle-grazing land.  The company makes at least $40 million off of the U.S. annually and supplies beef to companies such as Hormel, Libby, and Hereford.  Recently, the World Bank gave a $90 million loan to Bertin in what was known as the Bertin Project.  In this, the World Bank would pay for all the costs of deforesting the rainforest, but would share the profit that Bertin got.  The Sierra Club, an environmental program founded in 1892, openly protested against the whole thing, but, in March 2007, the Bertin Project was passed and Bertin has been deforesting since then.

Ipanema Coffees is a South American coffee company that deforests land in the South American rainforests (primarily in Brazil) to grow coffee beans.  It was founded in about 1970 as a “partnership” between two of Brazil’s major agricultural companies, Cia. Bozano, Simonsen and Trilux Participações S.A.  Ipanema is a major provider of coffee beans to Starbucks, a very popular coffee chain in the U.S.  Unfortunately, this means that a lot of Starbucks coffee blends contribute to deforestation.  The good news is that Starbucks does not get all of its coffee beans from Ipanema, so some of its products are eco-safe.  You can look on Starbucks packages for a map of where the coffee beans are grown.  If the beans are grown in South America or other equatorial regions, try to avoid purchasing these blends. 

Kimberly-Clark is a very large paper towel and toilet paper company that clears the world’s rainforests for wood pulp to make various paper products.  Every year, it makes over 2.5 million tons of paper, and has been repeatedly criticized by environmental companies such as Greenpeace and Treehugger.  Kimberly-Clark owns the trademark companies Kleenex, Scott, and Huggies, which are widely used in the U.S.

Weyerhauser is a lumber company that, when tested by Greenpeace for “environmental friendliness,” had the lowest score out of several other brands that were tested.  It owns over 34 million acres of land worldwide in which it deforests for lumber and develops polluting factories to process and package the wood.  Weyerhauser is used in several places such as the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Uruguay, and is the largest private owner of deforestation land.  To cover up that fact that it deforests, it has a “true lumber policy” in which it brags about the fact that it only uses “the finest lumber from the world’s great rainforests.”  In addition, Weyerhauser uses a cut-and-run method to get lumber in which it makes business contracts with loggers, deforests land, takes the lumber, runs off, and cancels the business contracts to avoid blame.

OLAM is a South American food company that cuts down trees in the Amazon for land to grow crops.  OLAM also supplies lumber, and some of its many products are cocoa beans, coffee beans, shea nuts, cashews, beans, sesame seeds, spices, rice, sugar, dairy products, and cotton.  The company makes about $4 billion every year and exports about 18 million cubic meters of food and lumber.  It is sponsored by the World Bank Group in a project to deforest Singapore, and is a major provider to ADM, another key deforestation company (also called one of the ABC’s of deforestation by Greenpeace).

Georgia-Pacific is yet another deforestation company that clears land in Brazil, Indonesia, the U.S., and Central America.  Its products include lumber, toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, and paper cups.  It was founded in 1927 and currently owns about 1/3 of the U.S. paper industry, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.  This company ranked third worst to the environment in Greenpeaces’s environmental test (mentioned earlier).  Georgia Pacific not only deforests, though, but its paper factories also fill nearby rivers with toxic waste and pollute the air with gas emmissions.  Some of the many companies that Georgia Pacific owns are Angel Soft, Mardi Gras, Brawny, Zee, So-Dri, Sparkle, Soft ‘n’ Gentle, Dixie, Spectrum, Vanity Fair, and Quilted Northern.

McDonald’s, believe it or not, vastly contributes to deforestation with its methods.  The reason for this is that the company clear cuts rainforests for land to develop soybean farms.  The soy that is grown is then fed to chickens as a cheap substitute for chicken feed.  The chickens are then slaughtered to make Chicken McNuggets, one of McDonald’s several food products.  Like Weyerhauser, McDonald’s uses a cut-and-run method to avoid blame for its practices.  Gavin Edwards, the forest campaign co-coordinator for Greenpeace, once said “Supermarkets and fast food giants, like McDonald’s, must make sure their food is free from the links to the Amazon destruction, slavery, and human rights abuses.”  This chain has been repeatedly criticized. McDonald’s not only harms the environment, but also employs unethical practices, such as slavery, to create its workforce.

Yum! Brands, Inc., the world's largest restaurant chain, is a company that heavily relies on soy as a food substitute.  Like McDonald's, it clears rainforests for land to grow soybeans.  Those soybeans are eventually used as cheap substitutes for chicken feed or are mixed into other food products.  Some companies that Yum! Brands, Inc. owns are KFC and Pizza Hut, in which the soybeans are used to feed chickens or serve as a filler in the pizza dough.  Of course, chicken fed on the soy eventually become the company’s deep-fried chicken products.  This information has been heavily investigated by Greenpeace volunteers.  In May of 2006, in fact, a few Greenpeace volunteers traveled out to a huge deforested region of the Amazon and laid out a 300 square meter banner that said "KFC - Amazon Criminal."

CVRD stands for Companhia Vale do Rio Doce.  It is Brazil’s largest mining company and deforests the Amazon for land to mine iron.  That iron is then sold to the Shanghai Baosteel Group Corporation, one of China’s largest iron distributors.  Baosteel then sells that iron to popular car companies such as Ford, Audi, Buick, and Volkswagen.  These cars are primarily sold in China and Europe. So, the truth is that even buying cars can contribute to deforestation.