Protest at Procter & Gamble shareholder meeting a flashpoint in campaign to protect largest intact forest in North America

Protest at Procter & Gamble shareholder meeting a flashpoint in campaign to protect largest intact forest in North America

Tuesday October 08, 2019

100+ organizations, tens of thousands of consumers urge company to stop greenwashing and stop making iconic brands like Charmin from endangered forests, threatened species habitat

CINCINNATI, OHIO – Protesters rallied outside Procter & Gamble’s annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday, October 8, in downtown Cincinnati to call attention to P&G’s failure to address its role in climate chaos. Inside the meeting, activists confronted CEO David Taylor for making toilet paper and tissue products from endangered forests and threatened species habitat. 

The protest marks the kick-off of a new level of campaigning after months of behind the scenes negotiations between P&G and environmental advocacy organizations Stand.earth and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) failed because P&G refused to adopt clear commitments with timelines, actual goals, and concrete steps to get out of endangered forests and caribou habitat.

Photos and video from the protest will be uploaded throughout the day here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1FTLbY4lOWabkvCI8XZtjgOnKUPuCQ9I0?usp=sharing 

Outside the meeting, a chainsaw-wielding bear inspired by Charmin’s iconic branding joined the tyvek-clad protesters who wore signs that read “Charmin: Stop Flushing Our Forests.” 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 like the Canadian boreal forest and refuses to add recycled or alternative fiber to its Charmin toilet paper to reduce its forest impacts. A 10-foot-tall inflatable package of Charmin toilet paper with a bear holding a chainsaw was launched near the entrance to the meeting.

“Consumers need to know that Procter & Gamble’s products are made from threatened species habitat and endangered 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 globally important forests like the Canadian boreal for toilet paper and tissue products.”

Inside the meeting, representatives with Stand.earth and NRDC presented executive leaders with a letter signed by more than 100 environmental, conservation, consumer and student groups in the U.S. and Canada. The letter expressed grave concerns about P&G’s impacts on forests and called for increases in recycled and alternative fibers and stricter measures for threatened species and endangered forest protections. 

The wide range of organizations expressed concerns that P&G’s brands contain no recycled materials or alternative fibers and criticized the species and climate costs of P&G’s activities, and urged the company to apply its 181-year history of innovation to create toilet paper and tissue products that are truly sustainable. 

“Big tobacco said cigarettes don’t cause cancer, oil companies said climate change was not real, and Charmin and Procter & Gamble refuses to abide by the science that says business-as-usual logging is killing boreal caribou in Canada and damaging our climate,” said Todd Paglia, Executive Director at Stand.earth. “The rainforest is on fire, children are on strike from school, millions are taking to the streets, and Procter & Gamble continues to make toilet paper from trees — when the bold action needed is within this company’s reach.”

“In the face of the worst environmental crisis our planet has ever faced, there is simply no excuse for Procter & Gamble to continue flushing our forests down the toilet with its unsustainable business practices,” said Shelley Vinyard, Boreal Corporate Campaign Manager at 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.”

P&G’s annual shareholder meeting comes amid increased calls from consumers and climate change activists for the company to use its extensive resources to create and deliver products that are better for the planet. More than 200,000 people have signed petitions calling for P&G to change its sourcing practices and reduce its reliance on fiber from clearcut forests. According to a national poll conducted by Engine earlier this year, nearly two-thirds of Americans are concerned their toilet paper is made from clear-cutting globally important forests like the Canadian boreal, and that 85% want toilet paper and tissue companies to use more environmentally responsible materials.

MEDIA AVAILABILITY

The following spokespeople from Stand.earth and NRDC will be available for media interviews beginning at 11 a.m. EST outside P&G’s headquarters, immediately following the shareholder meeting:

  • Tegan Hansen, Forest Campaigner at Stand.earth, and a resident of British Columbia, Canada
  • Shelley Vinyard, Boreal Corporate Campaign Manager at NRDC

BACKGROUND

In February 2019, Stand.earth and NRDC released the Issue with Tissue report, taking the largest U.S. toilet paper and tissue companies to task for using fiber from clearcut forests and exacerbating the climate crisis with their products. The report gave Charmin a failing grade for using zero recycled content while instead relying on ancient trees clear-cut from the Canadian boreal forest. 

Protecting the Canadian boreal forest is a global priority given that it is the largest intact forest in North America and stores more carbon per acre than just about any forest type on Earth, which is vital to mitigating the worst impacts of climate change. The Canadian boreal forest, which is often called the “Amazon of the North”, is home to over 600 Indigenous communities, as well as boreal caribou, pine marten, and billions of songbirds. The loss of this intact forest is impacting Indigenous peoples’ ways of life and driving the decline of caribou and other species.

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Media contact: Virginia Cleaveland, media@stand.earth, +1 510 858 9902 (US), +1 778 984 3994 (Canada)

Stand.earth (formerly ForestEthics) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with offices in Canada and the United States that is known for its groundbreaking research and successful corporate and citizens engagement campaigns to create new policies and industry standards in protecting forests, advocating the rights of indigenous peoples, and protecting the climate. Visit us at www.stand.earth and follow us on Twitter @standearth.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC