Don't Blow Ancient Forests on Kleenex

Feature story - August 19, 2005
Greenpeace and Kimberly-Clark have announced the successful resolution of the Kleercut campaign as the maker of Kleenex has established a new sustainability policy focused on protecting endangered forests. Go to to find out more!

A Greenpeace activist outside Union Station in downtown Toronto.

This tissue box-shaped truck illustrates that Kimberly-Clark, maker of Kleenex tissue products, is wiping away ancient forests.

Would you use a 1,000 year-old tree to blow your nose? Well, you may have if you've been using Kleenex, or any of the other brands distributed by parent company Kimberly Clark. More than 8,800 of you have written to the company, asking it to stop destroying ancient forests for products that are thrown away or flushed down the toilet, but Kimberly-Clark just doesn't seem to get it.

In addition to bombarding the company with e-mails, we decided to deliver our message face to face at Kimberly-Clark's annual shareholders meeting on April 28. Three Greenpeace activists were able to speak at the meeting and asked the board of directors and investors to stop sourcing fiber from ancient forests and to increase their use of post consumer recycled content in their tissue paper products, especially the popular Kleenex, Scott, Viva and Cottonelle brands.

While the activists were busy bending the ears of Kimberly-Clark's VIPs, more activists could be found outside the building, spreading the word to curious Texans.  After all, it's not everyday one sees people driving around in a truck that resembles a tissue box.

Read a first-hand account of the day's activities from one of the activists that was there.

What did the Bystanders Learn?

At present, Kimberly-Clark uses pulp and paper made from clearcut ancient forests. These forests include the largest tract of ancient forest left in North America: Canada's boreal forest, home to caribou, wolves, eagles, 30 percent of American songbirds, and bears, and essential in fighting global climate change.

In North America, less than 19 percent of the pulp that Kimberly-Clark uses for its disposable tissue products comes from recycled sources - well below the sector average. The rest comes from forests such as Canada's boreal. Most of the recycled fiber that Kimberly-Clark does use goes directly into tissue products sold to institutions. The disposable tissue products that you buy at your local grocery store - toilet paper, tissue and napkins - usually contain no recycled fiber whatsoever.

Numerous other companies are taking steps not to source or sell endangered forest products. Kimberly-Clark, the largest tissue product company in the world, has the capacity to make a much higher percentage of its products from recycled fiber. However, in 2003 it chose to use nearly three million tons of virgin fiber to produce products that are literally flushed down the toilet.

In response to this senseless destruction, we are demanding that Kimberly-Clark

  • Stop using wood fiber from endangered forests such as the boreal forest.
  • Stop producing tissue products using only virgin wood fibers and instead maximize the percentage of post-consumer recycled content in all of its products.
  • Turn to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) eco-certified forestry operations for what virgin wood fibers it does use.

It's obvious that the "Kleercut" campaign is being discussed at the highest levels of the Kimberly-Clark corporation. That's a great start, but now it's time to increase the pressure so the company stops discussing and starts acting!


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