David Taylor, CEO of Procter & Gamble (P&G) was told the company profited from a “wasteful, globally-harmful” practice — turning trees from the world’s largest, most carbon-rich intact forest into throwaway tissue products — in a letter signed by leaders of more than 115 environmental, conservation, consumer and student groups in the U.S. and Canada. The letter was delivered to shareholders at P&G’s general meeting in Cincinnati on Tuesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Stand.earth, non-profit environmental advocacy organizations, which also organized a rally outside the meeting in Cincinnati.
The letter, which cited “deep concern that Charmin” and other P&G brands contain no recycled materials or alternative fibers and decried the toll the manufacturer’s activities were taking on endangered species and the climate, urged the company to apply its 181-year history of innovation to create tissue products that are truly sustainable.
“In the face of the worst environmental crisis our planet has ever faced, there is simply no excuse for P&G to continue flushing our forests down the toilet with its unsustainable business practices,” said Shelley Vinyard, Boreal Corporate Campaign Manager for NRDC. “Nature’s call is loud and clear: Charmin must stop sourcing from threatened species habitat and forests that are vital to fixing our climate emergency, now.”
Consumers need to know that P&G’s products are made with threatened species habitat and carbon-rich ancient forests,” said Tzeporah Berman, International Program Director at Stand.earth and one of the winners of the 2019 Climate Breakthrough Project Award. “As a Canadian, it pains me to know that Procter & Gamble allows U.S. consumers to be unknowingly complicit in destroying endangered forests for single-use toilet paper and tissue products.”
To call attention to P&G’s failure to address its role in climate chaos, tyvek-clad protesters rallied outside the company’s annual meeting in downtown Cincinnati wearing signs that say “Charmin: Stop Flushing Our Forests” – joined by a chainsaw-wielding bear inspired by Charmin’s iconic branding. As shareholders made their way into the meeting, activists handed out 100% recycled “Who Gives a Crap” toilet paper and explained how P&G sources its fiber from clearcut forests and refuses to add recycled or alternative fiber to its Charmin toilet paper.
P&G’s shareholders meeting comes amidst increased calls from consumers and climate change activists for the company to use its extensive resources to create and deliver products with recycled and responsibly-sourced content that is better for the planet. Especially its toilet paper. Specifically, P&G is under fire for its Charmin brand, which uses no recycled content and is instead made using 100% virgin fiber from ancient trees, much of which is clear-cut from the Canadian boreal forest (the “Amazon of the North”). More than 200,000 people have signed petitions calling for P&G to change its sourcing practices and reduce its reliance on virgin forest fiber for its tissue products.
“The Canadian boreal forest stores nearly twice as much carbon as the world’s combined oil reserves,” said Anthony Swift, Director of NRDC’s Canada Project. “Keeping that carbon locked in the boreal’s trees and soils has to be a critical part of our global climate strategy – and that means companies like P&G must rethink what they’re using to make throwaway tissue products.”