Southern California environment news and trends

Pocahontas and Pig Iron: An L.A. actor connects to Brazilian forestry problems

Marizilda Cruppe

Pocahontas is on the right.

The two categories of actors who ally themselves with eco-matters are not “the ones who are earnest” and “the ones who aren’t.” Green carpet or blue carpet, red carpet or no carpet, they pretty much all mean it--at least the ones I talk to--when it comes to the ocean or climate change or energy efficiency. The dividing line is really “the ones who are serious” and “the ones who needed a socially-valid hobby.”

Apparently Q'orianka Kilcher is of the serious type. She’s a 22-year-old actress, based in LA. She’s all over issues raised by GlobalGreen, Oceana and even the L.A.-centric Liberty Hill Foundation. Her own foundation aims to put video cameras in the hands of people who can document environmental harms in hard to reach places. This week she climbed up an anchor chain in Brazil as part of a protest that’s now extended a week, over the export of pig iron to U.S. companies. Iron ore gets turned into pig iron with incredibly high temperatures created by burning wood. In Brazil, charcoaled wood comes from rainforests. Greenpeace has brought in people to sit, essentially, on the anchor, to point out that this is still happening.


Whole Foods, Safeway earn top seafood marks from Greenpeace

Mercer 5747

Getty Images

Earlier this month, Greenpeace released their 2012 Carting Away the Oceans report (AKA CATO). It found that grocery chains Safeway and Whole Foods are the first retailers to earn a “green” rating for the sustainability of the seafood sold in their stores.

“Safeway and Whole Foods have transformed themselves into true industry leaders,” said Greenpeace’s Senior Markets Campaigner Casson Trenor in a press release. “There is certainly still more work to be done, but we celebrate the achievements of these companies and eagerly await similar actions from other retailers posed to embrace sustainability to a greater degree.”

Both stores earned a rating of 7.1 out of 10, with 7 being the lowest score that qualifies as “green” in the annual report, launched in 2008. Greenpeace was especially enamored with Whole Foods’ recent Earth Day-related pledge to stop selling “red-listed” seafood species, a move we reported on last month. To be red-listed, a species is determined to be from depleted waters or collected through destructive means.


Pressure on Asia Pulp & Paper yielding corporate responsibility, new strategies on rainforest policy [UPDATED]

[author's note: see comments for an apparent dispute between Nat Geo & GP over what, if anything, they've discussed. Following...]

It's not spring yet, but corporate responsibility, and maybe some new savvy about rainforest politics, has been blooming all over.

National Geographic makes books in addition to magazines; they're the latest paper consumer to respond to a years-long joint campaign by several environmental groups to pressure retailers and other companies to end their paper-buying relationship with the Asia Pulp and Paper group of companies. [UPDATE: This may be wrong. See below for my explanation.] The World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace have been increasing the profile of their separate-but-related pushes in the last six months or so. WWF released a report entitled Don't Flush Tiger Forests: Toilet Paper, U.S. Supermarkets and the Destruction of Indonesia’s Last Tiger Habitat.


Corporate social responsibility; or, Mattel finally speaks to KPCC about deforestation, APP, Greenpeace stunt

Greenpeace's Barbie Protest

Grant Slater/KPCC

Sometimes people do ask corporations to be responsible citizens. Sometimes corporations do. Outside Mattel HQ, El Segundo, CA.

I was just listening through the tape from last Friday’s Grammy corporate sustainability event one more time. Not to start a fight with myself, but after I raised questions about the responsibility we ask from corporations, I found an example where people did just that. 

You may remember that last spring Greenpeace campaigned to get Mattel to source its packaging more responsibly: that is, they wanted Mattel to stop using pulp from Asia Pulp & Paper and its associates. (See here for more from last October, when Mattel did develop sustainability rules.)

Well, when I realized Mattel was at this event, I asked Jennifer Miller DuBuisson, the company’s associate manager of global sustainability, whether the Greenpeace campaign took them by surprise. “I mean, it definitely shows where social media is today. A pretty amazing campaign,” DuBuisson said gamely, quipping about the quality of the color scheme in the protest-stunt props. DuBuisson emphasized that Mattel did not approve of the action’s potential for harm to Greenpeace protesters and Mattel employees.   


Greenpeace at 40: Kumi Naidoo on AirTalk

Edison Petition Delivery

© Gus Ruelas/Greenpeace

Chicago community activist Martha Castillon.

Edison Petition Delivery

© Gus Ruelas/Greenpeace

Edison Energy Corporation, in Rosemead, California, owns the Fisk and Crawford coal power plants in Chicago which Greenpeace is campaigning to shut down.

As the Pasadena Star News reports, people came from Illinois to Rosemead yesterday…"bearing 25,000 petitions, they traveled from the Chicago neighborhoods of Pilsen and Little Village to Edison's Rosemead headquarters." 

Among them was Kumi Naidoo, the head of Greenpeace. I interviewed him back in March, when he came to town to meet with celebs and talk to the LADWP about coal.

After his encounter at Edison yesterday, Naidoo came in to the Mohn Broadcast Center in Pasadena to talk to Larry Mantle. His conversation just appeared on AirTalk at 11:00 this morning

I was surprised to hear that, as he says in the interview broadcast today, 60 percent of Greenpeace's efforts are policy-based, not protest-market-action based. (But then, Larry has a way of being incredibly well prepared and squeezing interesting information out of people.) What's fascinating about that is Greenpeace, now founded 40 years ago in Vancouver, still sort of cultivates a revolutionary image. "They said by putting our lives and bodies on the line, we can make a difference," Naidoo told a Canadian crowd a couple weeks back, not long after he got arrested for his cause, which, the head of an organization that's international doesn't often do such a thing.