Buy wisely to save the rainforest

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere has been much in the New Zealand press recently relating to the news that some of NZ’s manufacturers of premium toilet paper have apparently been using pulp from the Indonesian rainforest in its paper production.

In a country such as New Zealand, blessed with mile upon mile of forests, this has been a great surprise to many.

The finding was revealed by a joint project run between Greenpeace, the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and New Zealand’s Green Party and hit the newspapers with great force a few months ago, prompting public uproar at the latest corporate failure to save the rainforest.

Since then, Greenpeace has publicly red-carded several brands of the manufacturer Cottonsoft, including Paseo, KiwiSoft and Cottonsofts, with the results published in its Rainforest Friendly Toilet Roll Guide, which is designed to help consumers make more informed choices. Greenpeace explains which brands currently contain pulp taken from the endangered rainforests and recommends that customers avoid buying them.

However, the manufacturing companies argue that although they are indeed using wood from the Indonesian rainforests, they do not use high-grade wood, preserved for conservation purposes. They maintain that they use products that have been approved by the forest certification programme, PEFC, which denotes ethical sourcing.

The manufacturer Cottonsoft goes as far as to deny Greenpeace’s allegations as having no credible basis – allegations that have included the claim that the manufacturer is endangering the home of Sumatran Tigers. It has also gone further to attack the laboratory that gathered the results, saying that its research terms were vague and the country of origin could not be identified.

So who is right? The story is still playing itself out and tensions are running high. But in the meantime, it’s certainly a wake-up call to consumers keen to do their bit for the rainforest – even if that means making an educated and concerted effort to buy genuinely ethically sourced and manufactured products.

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