The (un)Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s Greenwash is Going to Lose. Here’s Why


ForestEthics’ mission is to protect forests and wild places. Together with our activists and funders large and small, we protect forests and wild places. That’s why we’re taking on the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and its phony eco-label. And we think we’re making some serious headway. After all, they wouldn’t threaten a lawsuit against us unless they were intimidated by our community’s work, would they?

Why are we targeting the Sustainable Forestry Initiative?

It’s hardly uncommon for companies to mislead consumers—we’re deluged by advertising that tells us that we’ll be thin, young and irresistible if we buy this cream or drink that vodka. But the SFI takes corporate deception to a whole new level. The program’s approach is seduction through “certification.”

SFI is a major barrier to protecting North America’s forests, because it provides green cover to the loggers and manufacturers who are plundering our forests. Plus, it’s the most widely used forest certification scheme on the continent. Big Timber knows that Americans care about forests and want wood products from trees that are responsibly and sustainably harvested. But instead of changing their forestry practices, huge players in the timber industry created, and now fund and govern, a sham certification that deceives consumers who care. SFI’s greenwashing permits huge clear-cuts, destroys wildlife habitat, and uses chemicals and fertilizers that can harm people and ecosystems. It has got to be stopped, for the sake of the planet and the people.

Why are we exposing the SFI now?

The future of America’s forests is being determined now. Consumers want environmentally responsible products, and the US green market is exploding. Valued at $230 billion in 2005, it is now estimated at between $500 and $750 billion and projected to double in the next 10 years1. To meet the demand, businesses are under increasing pressure to project a “green” image. The SFI was created to put a green spin on standard forestry practices, often without doing anything more (often less!) than state and federal laws require. The more forest destruction is greenwashed, the more acceptable forest destruction becomes. We can’t allow this deceitful, unaccountable industry to twist the truth, conceal the facts, and exploit consumer values.

SFI is at a tipping point. Our collective activism is exposing the logging behind the logo. Together, by educating consumers and manufacturers, we are making SFI certification a mark of shame. Recently, four more big brands committed to move away from the SFI, bringing the number of corporate commitments to 24. As a movement, we have to continue to halt SFI in its tracks–and we have to do it now.

SFI has warned ForestEthics to “cease-and desist”—we won’t. Instead, we’ll continue to fight SFI in the court of public opinion. Are you in?

Join the movement by signing our petition to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Be sure to sign soon, because we’ll be making a splashy delivery sometime very soon. Stay tuned!