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It’s a holiday miracle-Limited Brands, the parent company of the Victoria’s Secret brand, has recently announced a partnership with San Francisco based activist organization ForestEthics. As one of the world’s most aggressive catalogue marketers, (Is there anyone who has not received a Victoria’s Secret catalogue?) and voracious paper users in the business, this announcement is a harbinger of a better day for the world’s forests and for all the species who live on this planet.

This partnership did not get off to a promising start. About two years ago, ForestEthics began a heavy-duty marketing campaign, called “Victoria’s Dirty Secret”, which targeted Limited Brands/Victoria’s Secret catalogue paper policies. Obviously, the relationship began in a hostile manner, but as time went on, ForestEthics slowly convinced the company that a better for the environment paper policy would also be better for them. Since then, Limited Brands has increased their use of post consumer waste (PCW) recycled content, transitioning its clearance catalogs to sustainable paper with 80% PCW recycled content. After years of education and negotiation, the two partnered up for the long haul.

While ForestEthics announced this major milestone in its campaign to transform the catalog industry, Limited Brands revealed a new forest protection policy and a new contract for their catalogs. The policy, unprecedented in its scope, includes several landmark environmental measures and ensures that the pulp for the company’s catalog paper will not come from Endangered Forests. A new paper contract was also signed in accordance with the new policy.

“At ForestEthics, we pride ourselves on running some of the most hard-hitting, aggressive public campaigns out there, but there’s nothing I like better than congratulating a company when they’ve done the right thing,”said Todd Paglia, Executive Director of ForestEthics. “The steps they’ve taken make up one of the strongest environmental policies to result from a corporate campaign, and we applaud them for it. They’ve set a new standard, one that we expect other major catalog companies to meet or exceed.”

At issue throughout the discussions and campaign has been the impact of Victoria’s Secret’s catalog production on Canada’s Great Boreal Forest, which contains 25% of the intact, roadless forest remaining in the world. Stretching from Alaska to Canada’s Atlantic coast, the Boreal is a key regulator of global climate, providing one of our first lines of defense against global warming. It is a critical habitat for many species, including endangered caribou and half of North America’s songbirds, and provides $93.2 billion a year in ecosystem services like air and water filtration.

Currently, the Boreal is being logged at a rate of two acres per minute, 24 hours a day, and paper production accounts for nearly 50% of that logging. Limited Brands new policy prohibits sourcing paper from Endangered Forests in the Boreal, and provides other measures that will decrease impact on the Boreal as a whole. The policy sets a new standard for the catalog industry.”

Says Todd Paglia, “Over the next several years, we’re really going to be chipping away at that problem, both of us. It’s not going to be just their job, and we’re going to be working on it together. So I think we will get there, but it will take several years. Another thing about ForestEthics is that we’re not absolutists. We know that this has to work for the business, and if you persuade a company to do something “green” and then they start losing money and going out of business, you’ve just made sure no one else will do it.”

Limited Brands new, groundbreaking measures include:

Limited Brands has partnered with its paper supplier to eliminate all pulp supplied from the Boreal Forest (Alberta’s Rocky Mountain Foothills) and British Columbia (Inland Temperate Rainforest).

Shifting its catalogs to either 10% PCW or at least 10% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) content during 2007.

A preference for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, the only credible certification for sustainable logging. Limited Brands has partnered with its supplier to shift four of its mills to FSC.

Overall catalog paper reduction

A commitment to continual improvement on environmental attributes of catalog paper and paper use. Progress will be audited by an independent third party and made public.

A commitment to phase out of Endangered Forests

One million dollars committed to research and advocacy to protect Endangered Forests and ensure leadership in the catalog industry

“Limited Brands has come a long way in two years, and we congratulate them for continuing to raise the bar of what environmental stewardship means,”said Dan Howells, Paper Campaign Director for ForestEthics. And with Limited Brands taking a leadership role, other major catalog companies will need to live up to a higher standard.”

Says Todd Paglia, “Canada has a tremendous opportunity to lead the way as the solution for many companies who want to become environmentally responsible. Dell, Williams Sonoma, and many more companies will be making announcements in the coming months. We are committed to stewardship everywhere, and the paper logging industry is getting that message loud and clear today.”

Limited Brands Tom Katzenmeyer concludes, “Our new paper policy is going to guide us in the future and that’s going to impact the future.”

FORESTETHICS, a nonprofit with staff in Canada, the United States and Chile, recognizes that individual people can be mobilized to create positive environmental change and so can corporations. Armed with this unique philosophy, ForestEthics has protected more than seven million acres of Endangered Forests. Their “Victoria’s Dirty Secret” campaign featured over 750 protests and events, and over a million unique visitors to VictoriasDirtySecret.net. Visit www.ForestEthics.org for more information.

LIMITED BRANDS: Limited Brands, through Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works, C.O. Bigelow, Express, Limited Stores, White Barn Candle Co., Henri Bendel and Diva London, presently operates 3,545 specialty stores. Victoria’s Secret products are also available through the catalogue and at www.VictoriasSecret.com.

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 83 - September 2177
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