Complicated history between 3M, enviro group comes to head before ASG

Categories: Environment


Tuesday night's All-Star game unexpectedly brought out the best of the environmental movement, with one protestor memorably draping a sign reading "Love Water Not Oil" over the Target Field video board - an apparent reference to the Native American environmental group Honor The Earth, headed by two members of the Indigo Girls.

But if you gazed up at the sky over the Target Field stands before the game, you would have seen the work of another organization. There, zipping across the sky, was an airplane, with a banner containing a seemingly odd message behind it: "3M DO THE RIGHT THING FOR FORESTS."

See also:
Protester risks death to place Love Water Not Oil" Banner over Target Field video board

It turns out that the message was from a different organization, ForestEthics, an environmental advocacy group that's been specifically targeting 3M over where it gets the material for its products like masking tape, sandpaper, and Post-It Notes. ForestEthics has made a whole lot of noise over the issue in recent months, even releasing a report in April accusing 3M of relying on fiber from places like Canada's Boreal Forests, which contain endangered animals.

The act may seem like a stunt at first, but ForestEthics hasn't simply been yelling into the wind when it comes to 3M. In fact, ForestEthics and 3M have had a somewhat complicated relationship in the past, with the two entities actually meeting for almost a half-decade before things dissolved to the point they're at now.

The meetings started in 2009, and they initially revolved around a "Sustainable Forestry Initiative" certification that 3M has received on its products, a title basically saying that 3M was receiving the material for its supplies from "sustainable" forests - those that preserve water quality and diversity, among others.

While 3M holds the SFI certification as a title of pride, ForestEthics says the certification is virtually worthless, citing the Sustainable Forestry Initiative's close ties to the industry and relaxed standards compared to other labels. About five years ago, ForestEthics started talking to 3M to try to convince them to move to another, more environmentally stringent label. And 3M was open to listening, at least initially.

(To hear the rest of the story, head to page 2.)

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