Home Depot announces commitment to stop selling old-growth wood

Announcement validates two-year grass-roots environmental campaign.

provided by American Lands Alliance


fter suffering the brunt of a two-year grass-roots campaign urging Home Depot to stop selling old-growth wood products, the retail leader announced last week in Atlanta that the company would end sales of wood from endangered areas by the end of 2002. Home Depot is currently the world's largest retailer of old growth wood products.

"With last week's announcement, Home Depot has taken a leadership role in the US do-it-yourself industry. By phasing out of old-growth wood products -- or wood from endangered areas, as Home Depot prefers to say -- the company has joined the growing ranks of leading companies around the world who agree that selling old growth wood is unacceptable and must be stopped," said Brian Vincent, California organizer of the American Lands Alliance.

For the past two years, American Lands, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Greenpeace have led an international campaign urging Home Depot to stop selling old-growth wood. The groups have worked with major institutional shareholders, fought Home Depot expansion plans at local city council meetings, coordinated a hard-hitting national ad campaign and organized demonstrations at several hundred Home Depots across the United States, Canada, and Chile.

"We need to say thanks to all of the groups and individuals who have worked on this campaign," said Vincent. "I don't think a single week has gone by in the past two years that activists weren't out in the streets protesting Home Depot's egregious wood sales."

Old-growth forests are forests that have never been logged commercially, and are the most endangered forest areas on the planet. The giant trees in some old-growth forests are more than 2,000 years old. The Amazon rainforest is tens of thousands of years old, large portions of which have never been touched by commercial logging. Around the world, less than twenty percent of these original forests survive, and less than four percent survive in the United States. The wide array of old-growth products Home Depot currently carries includes lumber from the ancient temperate rainforests of British Columbia, old growth lauan and ramin from Southeast Asia and bigleaf mahogany from the Amazon. Although the company has promised to sell a small line of products that carry environmental certification, that volume is surpassed many times over by the wood it sells from the planet's most endangered forest regions.

Home Depot's adopting a new wood products purchasing policy is the latest of forest coalition's recent campaign successes. In 1998, RAN ended its boycott of Mitsubishi Motors America and Mitsubishi Electric America when the two companies adopted revolutionary environmental policies. RAN also worked to get MacMillan Bloedel, the largest lumber company in Canada, to stop clear-cutting in old-growth forests. In December 1998, 27 US corporations -- including IBM, Dell, Kinko's, Nike, 3M, Levi-Strauss, Mitsubishi Motors America, Mitsubishi Electric America, and others -- announced their commitment to stop selling or using old growth wood. [See SDET 4/99 and 12/98 for related stories.]

  Contact: Brian Vincent, California Organizer, American Lands Alliance, 530/265-3506. E-mail: wafccanccn.net.