Another success in our fight to save the Amazon: Nike commits to new policy!

by Mike Gaworecki

July 22, 2009

Not to toot our own horn, but here at Greenpeace, we’ve run our share of successful campaigns. Still, I think we’ve all been pleasantly surprised by the speedy response to our report, “Slaughtering the Amazon.”

The latest success in our campaign is Nike’s announcement today that it has established a new policy to ensure that its demand for shoe leather is not contributing to Amazon deforestation and global warming (read the Greenpeace press release here). You can help us thank Nike for protecting the Amazon and the climate. This is a huge victory, as it sets a great precedent to be followed by the other shoe companies named in our report, many of whom continue to greenwash their own corporate policies rather than take meaningful action.

I’ll say more about that in a bit. But I think, for now, I want to continue with the positivity. With that in mind, thought I’d run down a quick list of the biggest successes our campaign to save the Amazon has had:

  • On June 1st, we released the “Slaughtering the Amazon” report, and the very next day, the Public Prosecution Office in Brazil’s Para State announced that it was opening a billion-dollar lawsuit against several farms and various companies operating there, including one slaughterhouse owned by Brazil’s cattle giant Bertin, a company named in our report as one of the major corporations backed by the Brazilian government who are purchasing hides from cattle ranches involved in deforestation of the Amazon, as well as engaging in slave labor practices and other crimes. That same day, the environment minister of Brazil said that he agreed with our report and echoed our assertion that the Brazilian government should not be funding Amazon destruction.
  • On June 12th came news that several major grocery store chains in Brazil, including Wal-Mart and Carrefour, had banned beef purchased from the ranches accused by the Para state prosecutor’s offfice of being involved in illegal deforestation.
  • The very next day, June 13th, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private lending arm of the World Bank, announced that it was withdrawing a $90 million dollar loan to Bertin.
  • Then, on June 22nd, the world’s fourth largest beef trader, Marfrig, announced a moratorium that would prevent the company from buying cattle raised in newly deforested areas within the Amazon.

As you can see, the move by Marfrig came after the “Slaughtering the Amazon” report had really thrust an international spotlight on Marfrig, Bertin, JBS and other leading cattle companies who are driving Amazon deforestation and climate change, as well as companies like Timberland, Adidas, Reebok, and Clarks who buy cattle products from those cattle companies.

Like I said before, these shoe companies continue to be evasive rather than talk with Greenpeace about how they can ensure that their demand for leather isn’t fueling Amazon deforestation and climate change. Even if you’ve already emailed them once, you can email these shoe companies again and tell them you expect them to ensure they’re not part of the problem.

One thing I’d like to note: After you take action, you’ll most likely get an automated response from Timberland — a response that amounts to nothing more than pure greenwashing. But this post is already gone on long enough, and like I said, I’m more in the mood to dwell on the good things going on right now. So I’ll write about that more in the next couple days. Just wanted to say: Don’t be fooled by Timberland’s greenwashing in the meantime.

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