A Greener Look for Victoria's Secret Catalog
VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The publisher of the Victoria's Secret catalog agreed Wednesday not to buy paper produced from habitat of a threatened Canadian caribou herd, a move environmentalist hailed as a victory in efforts to limit logging in Canada's boreal forests.
U.S. retailer Limited Brands also agreed to increase the amount of recycled paper used in its catalogs, and to increase the environmental standards it requires from paper makers using the forests, which stretch across northern Canada.
Limited Brands and ForestEthics, an environmental group that had waged a public relations campaign over Victoria's Secret's paper use, said jointly the new policy sends a message to the paper makers and other catalog retailers.
"We're hoping to raise the bar on the availability of environmentally friendly paper and pulp and we're hoping the logging, pulp and paper industry will rise to the occasion here," Tom Katzemeyer, a Limited Brand's vice-president, told reporters.
The company's catalogs will use either 10 percent recycled paper or 10 percent new paper from sources certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as having been produced in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Victoria's Secret sends out more than 350 million catalogs each year marketing its intimate apparel products. Limited Brand's other units include Bath & Body Works, Henri Bendel and Diva London.
Environmentalists say the northern, or boreal, forest plays a critical role in the planet's health as one the world's largest storehouses of carbon, which can be released back into the atmosphere by logging, mining and energy development.
The woodlands and wetlands that stretch thousands of kilometres from the Atlantic coast into the Yukon are also seen as providing critical wildlife habitat.
The environmental groups are particularly upset about logging in the Rocky Mountain foothills of Alberta, which provides important habitat for the woodland caribou, and Limited Brands will buy no paper produced from that area.
Limited Brands also specifically agreed not to purchase any products from Canadian lumber, pulp and paper producer West Fraser Timber Co Ltd., which has significant logging operations in Alberta's foothills and British Columbia.
The Forest Products Association of Canada said Limited Brands' decision discriminated against forestry-dependent communities, adding that ForestEthics' views on how to protect the forest and caribou were too simplistic.
"Their approach, while grounded in good values, is based upon distorted information." the industry group said.
West Fraser officials were not immediately available for comment, and Limited Brands does not currently buy any paper directly from them.
ForestEthics said despite the conflict of the public relations campaign that included more than 700 protests against Victoria's Secret, the deal showed that environmentalists and industry can work together.
"Caribou range maps of Canada will increasingly reflect 'no buy' areas for environmentally-responsible customers," said ForestEthics program director Tzeporah Berman.
Canada's woodland caribou -- similar to Eurasian reindeer -- number about 184,000 and are designated as "threatened" by the federal government. Individual herds require 9,000 square kilometres (35,000 square miles) on average to thrive.
Limited Brands said the environmental campaign -- which did not include boycotts -- had no real financial impact on it, and the cost of changing its paper buying policies was also expected to be immaterial.