Home Depot phases-out old-growth forest products in face of eco-pressure

Sustained campaigning by a host of environmental organisations bore fruit recently when Home Depot, the world's largest DIY superstore chain, chose its 20th birthday celebrations to announce its plan to eliminate products made from old-growth forests by 2002.

The organisation that has led a two-year, international campaign against Home Depot’s sale of old growth forest products, Rainforest Action Network, welcomed the news and emphasised its belief that Home Depot’s change of heart was the result of grassroots campaigning.

“RAN has staged high-profile demonstrations at company headquarters, including hanging a giant banner there last October with the words, ‘Home Depot, Stop Selling Old Growth Wood’. RAN has also worked with major institutional shareholders, fought Home Depot expansion plans at local city council meetings, co-ordinated a national ad campaign and organised demonstrations at several hundred Home Depots across the US and Canada, as well as in Chile,” said Michael Brune, RAN’s Old Growth Campaign Director.

Home Depot hopes to complete the elimination of old-growth forest products with the assistance of the Certified Forest Products Council, an organisation that connects buyers and sellers of certified wood. The giant chain’s CEO and president, Arthur Blank, specifically confirmed that the company will phase-out “certain lauan, redwood and cedar products”.

According to RAN, Home Depot currently sells lumber from the ancient temperate redwood rainforests of British Columbia, old growth lauan and ramin from Southeast Asia and bigleaf mahogany from the Amazon. Home Depot is the largest single retailer of lumber in the world, account for less than 10% of global retail sales. Founded in 1978, it has 856 stores in America, Canada, Puerto Rico and Chile.

Upon hearing of Home Depot’s decision, RAN stated that it will monitor the company’s progress and thanked the many environmental groups that had contributed to the campaign. Campaigning against Home Depot has often been a high-profile cause. In May, the Vancouver branch of the Forest Action Network recognised Home Depot for its “anti-environmental excellence” by presenting it with the Golden Stump Award.

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