Big win for rainforests: Activists push Disney to better paper policy

A Sumatran Tiger Cub

A Sumatran Tiger Cub

We greenies sometimes spend a lot of time griping. This product is unhealthy, that company is misleading you, these politicians are denying climate science. It can be downright depressing.

But today we’re happy about the folks at Disney and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), who announced a new policy that will help protect Indonesian rainforests and the endangered tigers that live there. Here’s the issue: “Indonesia’s rainforests are being destroyed at an estimated rate of 2.5 million acres each year,” according to RAN.

On Sumatra, an Indonesian island bigger than the state of California, two paper giants – Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL) – are responsible for the lion’s share of this rainforest destruction. While only about 400 Critically Endangered Sumatran tigers remain in the wild, APP and APRIL continue to destroy their remaining rainforest habitat for throwaway paper products.

And their survey a few years ago found that many of the top publishers of children’s literature were using paper from some sketchy sources.

This seemed like an obvious contradiction: why should such a source of joy for readers around the globe also be causing destruction and pain? Rainforest Action Network released a report and asked companies to revise their sourcing policies in 2010. Many publishers immediately responded, but Disney, the largest publisher of children’s books and magazines, wasn’t as quickly on board.

But thanks to hard work from activists and members — including what looks like a really fun protest — Disney came to the negotiating table and agreed to change their paper policy.


One protester wasn’t happy about Disney’s prior policy

Disney will now make strong efforts to reduce the consumption of paper, eliminate any paper products that come from “irresponsibly harvested” forests, and maximize paper that is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified, and from recycled sources.

And the policy affects every product they sell: books, magazines, tickets, licensed products — from nearly 25,000 factories around the globe.

What’s next? One major publisher, HarperCollins, has yet to agree to a policy that, according to RAN, would ensure it’s not causing rainforest destruction. Let’s hope they will come around. Take a look at their petition and sign if you’re interested!

Read more: Disney and RAN agree to historic commitment for Indonesia’s forests | Rainforest Action Network 

Photo credit: Kenny Louie, Rainforest Action Network, and Brit, via Flickr

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