Imagine that a small army of bulldozers and other types of heavy equipment came into your neighborhood early one morning and began destroying everything in sight on the street where you live: three-story homes; garages; manicured lawns; pretty flowers; backyard pools; even tree houses and the trees they sit in, with absolutely no regard for the lives connected to them.
If you are a tiger living on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, this is your reality. Those with an ear to the ground regarding animals in peril around the globe have presumably heard about the link between manufacturers of toilet paper and tissue and the destruction of tiger habitat in Sumatra.
Home to two of the largest pulp mills in the world, Sumatra’s track record for nurturing its environment is a tarnished one. According to the World Wildlife Fund, since 1985, the island nation has lost more than half of its lush rainforest cover mostly to deforestation (via both the palm oil and the pulp and paper industries) leaving less than 31 million acres. With roughly 400 Sumatran tigers and less than 2,800 Sumatran elephants left in the wild, the untouched acres are critical to the survival of these species.
This news shouldn’t be shocking to any of us. How many times have humans ruined or completely disregarded the environment of animals in order to take what they wanted from the land? Likely, too many times to count. Now that we are citizens of the 21st century, aren’t we supposed to be more enlightened?
Thanks to WWF, the public is learning about injustices towards animals and their habitats. In particular, WWF discovered that several brands of toilet paper sold in the United States are manufactured by Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), a company that is credited with more rainforest eradication than any of its counterparts in Sumatra. The two retail toilet paper brands, Paseo and its sister brand, Livi, also count napkins, facial tissue and paper towels in their product line. Based on their own research and retail data from Nielsen, WWF pinpointed the 20 largest U.S. grocery chains that carried Paseo products last year.
When WWF reached out to these grocery chains and informed them of the connection between Paseo, APP and the deforestation in Sumatra, the results were mixed. Some discontinued sourcing the Paseo and Livi brands, while others either continue to source them or failed to respond. It should be noted that WWF advised these grocery chains to stop sourcing these brands as long as APP persists in their irresponsible actions in Sumatra.
The good news is that fourteen out of the twenty companies listed in WWF’s “Don’t Flush Tiger Forests” report stopped buying Paseo. Like the ripples from a pebble tossed in water, WWF’s activism touched more than grocery stores. Companies worldwide took notice of APP’s deforestation record (and its effect on Sumatran tigers) and stopped doing business with them. The list of these companies includes such leading brands as Staples, H&M Group and Disney. As consumers, we are free to support brands that harm animals and the environment or reject them. Let’s work on increasing everyone’s awareness of this problem and on making deforestation and illegal trade things of the past. Animals are precious creatures that we all are meant to coexist with peacefully. If we don’t start now, when will we?
In a comment that is much too close for comfort, English novelist Ouida (1839-1908) mused: “In a few generations more, there will probably be no room at all allowed for animals on the earth: no need of them, no toleration of them. An immense agony will have then ceased, but with it there will also have passed away the last smile of the world’s youth.” Let’s hope Ouida is wrong.
Photo Credit: jlanger