Wednesday, September 30, 2009

improving peripheral vision: world news in brief: Mau Forest


I want to focus your attention for a minute or two on an area known as the Mau Forest, in Kenya. The Mau forest is the largest forest in Kenya; it's rivers are the dependancy of over 10 million people. The rivers that come from this forest source eight wildlife reserves and feed into six lakes, one of which is Lake Victoria. Lake Victoria is one of the primary sources of water for the Nile. (facts gathered here). The Mau forest is currently the center of a rather large conflict; although it seems to have been skipped over in much of our recent media (I could only find approx 10 news articles on Google news specifically devoted to this topic: all came from BBC. Compare this to how many articles you'd find on...say..Rob P).

What's happened in the Mau forest is that "a quarter of its 400,000 hectares have been destroyed by farmers and loggers" (BBC). A quarter. You might think this seems like an insignificant number, but as it turns out, it is seriously damaging the country's eco-system. As stated on  BBC News: "Mau forest is Kenya's largest water tower - it stores rain during the wet seasons and pumps it out during the dry months." But what happens when your wet seasons aren't really that wet at all? You rely on your water tower...and what happens when someone's poked a giant hole in your water tower?

The past 3 years have seen a shortage of rain during the "wet" seasons. In April of 2009, which is usually a wet season, it hardly rained at all. Literally millions of cattle fell dead into their fields, and over 10 million people came face to face with starvation. Why? All due to the lack of water, which has been spurred on by the huge dent in the eco-system of the Mau forest.

The trouble is, the trend seems to be continuing. The rainy seasons are becoming less and less...rainy. And a forest that was once capable of providing a buffer for these types of situations has been and continues to be depleted. But it's just a forest, you might think. How much of a difference can it really make? According to Prof Wangari Maathai of the Green Belt Movement, it makes a big difference: "If you destroy the forests, the rivers will stop flowing and the rains will become irregular and the crops will fail and you will die of hunger and starvation". That's a succession a lot of people just don't think about.

Animals are dying in droves either because of lack of water or poaching. Elephants are now being poached for meat; people are so desperate for food (their other food keeps dying). Entire herds of wild life are being forced to relocate. Pretty soon (and I do mean soon), it's going to start taking the lives of people, too.

If the 100million trees that need to be planted were somehow all planted tomorrow, it will still take decades to repair the damage done. The people of Kenya (and Tanzania, and Egypt, etc) are going to be feeling the effects of this for years to come, especially if action isn't taken.

I suppose I brought this up because I of how alarmed I was while looking at pictures of dead animals (which I've chosen not to post, you can find them on the BBC articles), and thinking about the people suffering because they didn't have any water. I was alarmed because I realize how easy it is for me to just forget about it; to fill up my brita every evening and my water glass 10 times a day and run my shower and my dishwasher and my taps and do my laundry...And realizing that it isn't just me. I live on a continent of wasters. I am a product of a spoiled culture; a culture that simply doesn't care as long as its own belly is full and its own thirst is quenched.

To be honest, I'm not sure where to go from here...I'm still working that part out in my own head. But maybe, just maybe we should stop caring so much about clean vehicles and technicolor lawns. That's probably a start.

There is so much more to this story, including some very complicated social and political factors. Hit up Google News and look up "Mau Forest" or "Kenya Drought" for more info

Monday, September 28, 2009

apples to phobias

Hey God.

Hey Ashley, how's it going?

Great, it's great.

You don't sound happy.
I know this tone.
...go on.

Well you know how I’m
afraid of spiders, right?


And worms?


And all other creepy crawlies?


….basically anything
smaller than a bird?

Mmmhmm…your point, darling?

You really don’t see
where I’m going with this?



Fine. Well, there’s this retreat coming up,
in which we will be spending our time in
apple trees, picking apples, gettin' back
to nature…you know the drill.

Yes, I think it’s a wonderful idea.
I am actually really looking forward
to meeting with you this weekend.

You are huh. Don’t you think it’s possible
to meet me uh, I dunno…in my living room?
In my car on the way to work? Or any other
sterile, bug free environment?

Of course.

Then why apple trees?


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Faith, I think.

So much of who we are is largely unanswerable. Who am I? What am I here for? When will I know? Where am I going? Why? (oh, the Why’s). Because of the frequency and occasional severity of these questions (and their seeming lack of answers), much of who we are and where our lives lead us is based entirely upon faith. Not necessarily Faith in God, but just faith, in general. Faith that I am strong enough, faith that I am here for a purpose, faith that I am making the right decision. There are very few things we can know with certainty; there are plenty of things that leave us wondering.

Depending on your personality type, your upbringing, and who you are as a person (in general), you are going to process these things of life differently than the person you sit next to. Some resort immediately to distraction, others to fast, shallow answers, and some are satisfied with never having asked at all. There are still others – and I include myself in this group – who spend much of their lives forming questions. Those cliché 5W’s are cliché because people like us made them cliché. Gosh, it’s exhausting. But, tiresome or not, it’s all I know how to do. I can’t settle myself on complacency of mind; if there is a question to be asked my brain will most likely form it and throw it up to the heavens before the rest of me knows what’s going on. And I'll stay with that question, for a little while anyways. Even if I know it’s unanswerable. Even if I know it’s not a “good” question, not a “holy” question, not a “wonderful example to the believers” question.

Because, truth be told: I am a faulted human, too.

Why do I write these things? Because I am afraid, I think, of what’s coming. And it worries me that I am afraid.

I suppose I am wondering what it looks like to Follow, when it’s obvious that people are watching. Is humanity accepted or shunned? Are mistakes forgiven or put on display? What kind of standard am I putting on my weak shoulders?


I want/feel the need to assure you of a few things. One: I know that He who called me is Faithful, Two: I know He has me here for a purpose. Three: despite what it might seem, I do have moments of clarity that remind me of these things. And finally, there are moments when I really am not asking this many questions (ha!).

If you are in my community, you know in many ways what God has asked of me this year. The irony is, however, that I feel largely unequipped. Perhaps you know the feeling? I am not good enough or talented enough or brave enough to do all that He’s asked of me. As I wade deeper and deeper into this transition, I find that I am fighting off whisperings of inadequacy by the minute, realizing more and more how odd it is that He would call someone with so many cracks to assist in leading the whole; that he would ask the quietest voice in the room to speak louder.

But, I’m still a sinner” I fret, to the Unfrettable. “Look at my hands,” I say, “they are filthy.”

The truth is, dear friends, that I still ask some of the very same questions I mentioned at the beginning, even though I know the Who, the Why, the Where and the What For. I know Him, but not enough; I hear him, but I don’t always listen; I walk His way…mostly.

The truth is, I am still not perfect (ouch, that hurts to admit). But what is more true than that is the One who is perfect has called me to work alongside of Him. He asks even me to contribute to His world, which is something I find entirely strange.

What is the point in all of this?, you may ask. Good question. 
I don’t really know.

A dear friend of mine was recently instructed (as a leader in a churchy setting) not to ask her doubt-filled questions in such a public forum (her blog). Maybe I should have held back as well? Am I a bad example, am I confusing others, am I being inappropriate? Maybe I should only post things when I am in a good mood, and when I am certain of the things I am certain of. Maybe I should wait until my heart stops beating anxiously at the thought of all my frailties. Maybe I should wait until all my Questions have been answered? Maybe.

But maybe instead of pretending to be where I’m not, I’ll do my best to continue being honest with where I really am. Not seeking vulnerability above all else, like most of our generation (that’s another post entirely). But rather, seeking to be genuine in my faith and love for the One who IS Love. I don’t want to walk this earth in complicated silence, I want to walk it with the certainty that despite my many (many, many) faults, I am not lost. I am not beyond hope. I am still worth saving. Because if I am not lost, that means, dear friend, neither are you.

the problem with being human

So I finally took a day off; slowed the brain and schedule long enough to realize the extent of my exhaustion. Phooey. I’ve had a headache since I stopped the rushing timetable. I’m suddenly noticing body aches that weren’t there before and feeling an increasing need to take hourly naps. I caught a cold. In the aftermath of my R&R, my low-level-functions are having trouble keeping up with my busy calendar. Some might call it irony, that Rest&Relaxation has an aftermath. I just call it standard protocol; I have yet to “break” without collapsing afterwards. There’s probably a lesson to be learned in this somewhere…something about balance, perhaps?

Obvious Statement #1: It’s a lot easier to be high functioning when I am actually functioning at a high level.
Obvious Statement #2: I could really use a nap.

Today’s Applicable Quote: "I believe humans get a lot done, not because we're smart, but because we have thumbs so we can make coffee." Flash Rosenberg

Friendly Reminder: Please see the latest SHOUT OUT (3 posts down) and mark Oct 16 in your calendar (read the post to see what’s up). See you there!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

SHOUT OUT! - Laurell & Jamie

The term 'shout out', according to Wikipedia, is "a greeting or acknowledgment of a person, group, or organization of significance. It is often done as a sign of respect, synonymous with "giving props". I have decided that each Monday, I am going to post a SHOUT OUT! where I will highlight some of the sweet local talent in and around BC. Why Mondays? you ask. The answer is simple: we can all use a little something to look forward to at the beginning of yet another work week (haven't I retired yet??); and if you're anything like me, your "please entertain me" internet surfing habits skyrocket on Mondays. Why only BC artists? One, because I live here. And two, because this province is loaded with artists of all kinds; so whether it's a painter, singer-songwriter, photographer, or ______: if you or someone you know wants to be featured in my weekly SHOUT OUT! let me know!

So WOW. How long has it taken me to get here?? Too long. And what is up with Oct 16, anyways?? Get your calendar marking tools ready -  let's get on with it!

I am SO excited about this "two-at-once" SHOUT OUT - music and photography all in one! I am friends with one of them and hope to utilize the talents of the other at some point in my future. Normally, my close connections would imply a bias. But I think you'll see after admiring their gifts yourself, bias' don't count when the people are this good.


I first met Laurell almost 5 years ago (if I've done my math right) when she came on tour to the blip of a town I lived in while attending college. My friends and I went to her coffeehouse concert and were quickly impressed. We each took our turns remarking, "wow, it's like she's read my journal!" After her show, she announced that she'd be hanging out in her tour bus (read: sweet babyblue school bus) and welcomed the audience to come by and say hello. My friends Jen and Hannah and I took her up on that offer, and got to hang out with her the whole afternoon! Later, Laurell even got me to make an announcement for her on the foyer stage. Overall, she won us over not only because of her sweet music, but also because of her absolute genuine friendliness. 

When I moved to this area a few years ago I began to go to any show of hers that I could - introducing my friends to her music along the way. I went to so many of her shows, in fact, that we are now friends. There are a few lessons to be learned in this. One: persistence pays off. Two: good music is made better when the musician is a warm-hearted gem who doesn't arrest you for stalking.

Laurell has been featured on one of Vancouver's biggest radio stations, toured extensively, and has won countless accolades (so many I can't actually name them all), including the "We are Listening" singer/songwriter of the year award, the grand prize in a competition featured on, which won her exposure through Bell Canada and Sympatico/MSN, as well as a nomination for a Western Canadian Music award for Outstanding Pop Album of the Year.

Laurell, to date, has released two full length albums and one EP. After (what feels like) years of waiting, she is releasing a BRAND NEW ALBUM! Aaah!!! As one of her biggest fans, and as a friend, this is something that is very, very exciting. She's scheduled CD release parties in Courtnay, Victoria, North Van, and Vancouver. That last show (Vancouver) is being held on October 16th @ Coastal Church. Admission is $15 and a FREE CD comes with admission. If you want more details on this or any other tour date, or are interested in getting your hands on her music sooner than that, you can check out her website, her myspace, or her facebook fanpage, or on itunes.

Good photography is something that absolutely slays me - I love it. While most of the population now has their own "professional" camera, there are still only a fraction of those people that actually know how to capture inspiration in the moment. Jamie Delaine is one of them; she's got the eye. I actually discovered her photography through Laurell; Jamie is her "go to" photographer for promo shots...and it's not very hard to see why! The photos I'm going to post of hers are obviously going to be of Laurell (keeping with the whole "two in one" theme), however there are countless others of hers that make me excited to my very core. She does wedding photography primarily, but also works with families, children, couples and individuals to produce captivating, unique, emotive images from one appointment to the next. Her work has appeared in Real Weddings magazine (Summer '09) and one of her weddings was featured in the Urban Wedding Dictionary ('09). You can see more of her photos on her website or on her blog (updated frequently...a good excuse to stalk!).

Let's get to it - ladies and gentlemen, Laurell & Jamie. (click on the photos to make them bigger or go here to see the full photoshoot)

 Don't forget! Mark Oct 16th in your calendar!
Jamie & Laurell, you rock.

Monday, September 21, 2009

an important distinction

"Where do you go clubbing?" asked my coworker, once upon a time.

"Hah" I laughed, "I don't go to clubs". Clubs are for silly people, I tell myself. And I feel quite self important at the end of this brief conversation.

I feel I need to make this important distinction. I do not like clubbing, but I do like to dance. A lot. In fact, I may love dancing.
...Maybe, if we spent more time together.

Dancing punches stress in the face. Dancing makes me laugh from sheer joy. Dancing meets that burger in the middle, wrestles it for awhile, and keeps it from clinging to my aging fat cells. Dancing takes my cares for a long, long walk.

Clubbing means beer breath, negative stereotypes, frosted tips and shiny shirts. To club is to walk through a land where physical boundaries bend in new and frightening ways. Clubbing shocks my innocence (and I am not even entirely innocent); like MTV in real life.

To find a place where you can dance and let the heavy, weighted beat move you how it moves you is rare; to find a place where you can dance and not have a sweaty crotch-wrangler* grab your waist and pull you close is even more exceptional. Which is why I have fallen in love with Girl Talk.

Girl Talk, once you've showered I would like to give you a big hug to say THANK YOU, for making dancing fun again.

the girl who likes to dance but does not like to club.

*my new term for the men who frequent clubs. Vulgar? Yes. Fitting? Absolutley.

another shoutless monday

Two things you should know about me:

1. I have really good intentions
2. I am in serious want of a day off

I have said before that if you ever want to get a glimpse into the state of my mind, take a look at my bedroom. That being said, my bedroom is currently up to my knees (higher in places; blame the furniture), from wall to wall, in clothing and other items in desperate need of organization. Ironic, after a post about the excess of stuff, I suppose (except that my room was the very reason I wrote that post).

The last evening I spent at home was on September 4th (which was roughly 17 days ago), and that day was spent throwing items into a bag for my week-long trip back home. Days before that were busy too, finishing up projects and attending meetings. I spent very few hours in my house, aside from the ones where I slept. In the 30 days that follow today, I have 19 evenings “out” (or booked) in the schedule. That’s much more than half, you know.

But – sweet breath of Life! – I get to spend tomorrow evening at home!

This means that I can do laundry, and unpack from my trip, and reunite my wardrobe with my closet, and if I'm really really productive I might even get to vaccuum my floor (can I get an Amen?)

I can’t even tell you how happy I am that I don’t have any plans, and am asking that everyone I know help me celebrate by not calling me.

No offence.

…where was I going with this? Oh right.
The point is that I do apologize for the lack of SHOUT OUTS (because I’m pretty sure I’ve hit a solid month without one. Lame.) but want to ensure you that tomorrow is the day! Yup, tomorrow during my free evening I will post the much anticipated “double hitter” I brought up last week. There are so many pictures and links in this one that it would be rather difficult to post it at work and go unnoticed (unlike the rest of my photoless posts). And not that you care, but blogger doesn’t work properly on my office computer for some reason, and posting photos isn’t even a possibility. Ha. So there. I can't do it now.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In the absence of Pity Cake.

Normally, for our admin-office birthdays, a cake is purchased on the sly & a card is passed around in a folder for everyone to sign. It’s a great tradition: Surprise! Even though you knew it was coming, we bought you a cake!

Nothing like finding out the tradition is over - on the day of your actual birthday, at the time the cake would have normally arrived.

News Update! A cake was brought today (2 days later), to share with the other birthdays that were missed (one on the same day as mine, one earlier in the summer - which we all forgot about because she took vacation right over her birthday). So it's not a lost tradition, it was just on a break for awhile. Good to know; I've been enjoying the 8 times yearly birthday cake parties (this doesn't include the 5-10 times yearly retirement/birthday cake parties for the other staff in the building). Next stop: Christmas season and the daily chocolate boxes the rest of the building feels compelled to buy our admin department. Thank God the rest of the women here are on diets - more for me! Diabetes, here I come.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

SHOUT OUT - coming soon!

Don't worry all, I realize I have forgotten to SHOUT OUT for the past two weeks (or has it been three? pitiful). I have a sweet Two-In-One coming soon, by the end of this week. Hang on to your hats! And get ready - this one rocks.


ps - mark your calendar for the evening of Oct 16, check back soon to see what's up on that date!

Monday, September 14, 2009

on the unimportance of stuff.

I’m sure most of you have been asked the following question at some point or another: “if your house was burning down and you could only grab one thing before you left, what would it be?” Most people, most normal people I assume, would be able to answer this question with some level of clarity and speed. “I’d grab my _______” or “my _____, no question!” The logical, life-is-more-important-than-things side of me answers that question quickly, too. “Nothing! Get the H outta there before you die from smoke inhalation!” But if you know me at all, you know I am largely ruled by Nostalgia, and I therefore have another “side” that would like to voice its opinion.


The truth is, that as I sit here and envision myself in the middle of a burning room, trying to choose what to take with me as I jump out my bedroom window (and hopefully make it down without breaking both my legs), I’m stuck. I’m not actually doing anything in the picture; not unless you count my pained expression and frantic, worried looks around the room as “doing something”.

…maybe I should take my childhood bear. He’s been a constant companion since I learned to walk; he’s been with me through everything, why should I leave him now? I could never let him burn. Oh, but what about my box of writing, or my old journals, or my laptop? The combined total of written, sporadic, inspired thought in these mediums is quite vast and definitely irreplaceable. I’ve been writing since I was little; it’s shaped me, it’s become a part of who I am and how I journey. Could I really let the pages curl away in smoke and flame? And what about my mother’s artwork? Also completely irreplaceable and one-of-a-kind and beautiful. Each time she puts a brush to canvas it’s like a part of my heart gets splashed on there with the paint. It would kill me to know these were lost.

The point is, I could never choose between these things. If I tried to choose, or tried to get everything of nostalgic value out the window, it would likely make it out alive long before I did.

You’ll notice that I only mentioned three things in the what I would save list….okay so they aren’t necessarily individual items, they’re actually “Topics of things you’d find in Ashley’s Room”…give me a little credit. That took a lot of work! Truthfully, not everything I own is held in such high regard. In fact, I have a lot of STUFF that isn’t really that important to me at all. So why do I have it? In this post I want to explore this idea a bit further. We could call it, “The Mystery of the Stuff and Where it Comes From”. Here are a few things you need to know before we continue:

1) I admit that I am, by nature, a keeper. I keep things that mean something to me. Cards, letters, books, items of clothing, trinkets, etc. If you ever write me an honest, funny, or charming little note I will probably still have it 20 years from now. I will keep it in one of my letter boxes. Especially if you put stickers on it or draw me a picture (kidding, mostly).

2) I am, by nature, an item-purger. I loooove to get rid of things, to clean, organize, systematize and give away. Nothing feels better than the filling up of a bag and the getting rid of those unnecessary pounds of STUFF.

3) In relation to point 1 and 2, you can guess that there’s a bit of a cycle when it comes to my room/belongings. I always have a give-away pile on the go, and am constantly re-evaluating what I own to see what can go and what can stay.

I’ve always had a weird love for organizing, but it was my friend Christina that really kicked me in my nostalgic-gonads. Her life was so…simple. When she packed up to move it was so…simple. Her space was always clean and organized because there was a place for everything. She kept what she needed and she kept what was of the utmost importance to her; anything else fell by the wayside into a giveaway box or the hands of someone else. Yet, as simplified as her belongings were, she was constantly re-evaluating what she owned, what should be kept and what should go. And inasmuch as I had spent my entire adult life (literally, all encompassing) getting rid of things, organizing boxes, and learning not to live under the heavy hand of Nostalgia, there was something about her approach to “things” that really made me wonder. And so I started to go through my “STUFF” with a fine-toothed comb. Why am I keeping this? What does it mean? The end result: I have given away more stuff in the past 3 years than most of the world comes to own in a life time. That’s right: a life time.

More than anything though, I’ve had to ask myself the following question: WHERE THE CRAP DOES IT ALL COME FROM!? How is it possible that I am constantly purging through a closet that is seemingly always busting at the seams? How is it possible that I have so many random pieces of kitsch, so many pieces of paper that feign importance? The fact of the matter is, I am a product of my culture by and large, as much as I don’t like to admit it. We earn enough money so we can “live” – we earn as much as we do so we can buy things. We’ve all got our weak spots when it comes to what we buy. Some have an addiction to buying expensive electronics or other gadgets, for some people it’s shoes, still others love a top-of-the-line kitchen. Some people don’t care what it is, as long as it’s on sale. If we were honest with ourselves, we’d realize that much of the STUFF that we buy is unnecessary for life. Our money could be better spent elsewhere.

My own “shopping” weak spot is clothing. Wearing some new-to-me item is such a good feeling. Like a mini fresh start. I don’t shop a lot; the majority of my income is tied up before the paycheck even gets to me. Admittedly, however, I still do buy things on occasion. Weird and alarming, that “on occasion” is enough to cause such large ripples in the tide pools of ownership. I actually hate the mall (blech) and spend most of my shopping time in a sweet thrift store I’ve found; I rarely leave this place empty handed. But despite my thrifting habits and my overflowing closet, I feel like I’m making strides, at least. Here are a few tested and tried theories that have helped me slow the turnover rate in my wardrobe and curb my need to spend on impulse.

For one, I try not to thrift/shop with other people. I know, I know. Anti social. But when it comes down to it, the clothes I own that have the shortest turnover rate (from purchase to pile) are the ones I’ve purchased with the encouragement of others (“oh that looks GREAT!”). It took some serious evaluating, but in testing the theory out this summer I’ve found it to be true: It’s better for me to shop alone. Maybe for you, you need to shop with a buddy – someone who will tell you what looks good and what doesn’t; someone who will remind you that you already have six pairs of jeans. Maybe. But for me it’s just the opposite.

In addition, I’m proud to say that I’ve stopped shopping on impulse. It was a painfully hard habit to break, but I did it (and I’m still alive!). Here’s a little tip I discovered that changed my life (hah): let yourself pick up the item. There’s something about the weight of its existence that brings our weird habits into the light of day. Typically, when we know we want something on impulse, we resist the temptation to throw it in our basket – we leave it on the shelf. We then walk around the store and get everything else we need, all the while thinking about that perfect set of bowls over in the housewares section (on sale!). Then, right before we leave, we give in. We go and get the item, we make it through the cash counter without a hitch – the item is ours! And then, on the way out to the car, the weight of it starts to hit us. They’re heavy; they’re a tangible, real item. And I’m not entirely sure I need a new set of bowls, pretty as they are. Won’t there be others, later? …By putting the items in your basket right away, this thought process starts a LOT sooner, and with a little self discipline you’ll soon find yourself able to (gasp) put the item back onto the shelf and leave the store without it.

My final encouragement is to go through your bedroom and PURGE. Watch shows like Clean Sweep on TLC for inspiration (or a show called HOARDERS…but only if you’re in the mood to be seriously disturbed). Organize your belongings into KEEP, GIVE AWAY and TOSS piles (Clean Sweep has a “sell” pile instead of a “give away” pile – I’ll let you decide how badly you want to have a garage sale). The point is that you create a simple system that forces you to be cut and dry with what you own. You may need a buddy for this. (I volunteer my brutally honest opinion for what’s in your closet and my love for organizing others for the rest of your stuff). Next, choose an organization (thrift stores, youth centers, women’s shelters, kids clubs usually all take donations of clothing and household items) and give them your purged items.

There’s something psychologically freeing about getting rid of the tangible things we’ve been holding on to, especially when they carry no meaning. Physical space means mental and emotional space; once you’ve begun to experience tangible simplification you’ll find it easer to wrap your head around the things of life. No better time to clear the space around you than now, as we head into another dreary, greyed out winter. Let me know how it goes!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Kleercut - Case Closed!

Well, I had intended on writing this post as a way to highlight a movement called Kleercut. This movement was launched in 2004 by Greenpeace as a way of holding big-name-brand Kimberly Clark accountable for their actions (outlined below) that were devastating the environment. But when I went to check up on the movement today, I came across some very VERY good news!

That's right! The mission was successful! Read on to learn more.

What was the company doing?
Formerly, as many of you will be aware of/remember, Kleenex brand tissues advertised that they were made from "100% Virgin Fibre!"; this was advertised everywhere they were in print. This means they were using straight up, non-recycled, fresh cut trees from the ancient forests (such as the Boreal Forest). In fact, most (if not all) of Kimberly Clark's products were made this way. With this method of production, the math worked out to this insane (but true) statistic: It takes 90 years to grow ONE BOX of Kleenex. 90 years! And that's just the impact that was being made by the one brand name.

Thankfully, that's no longer the case for Kimberly Clark! They've taken some drastic, exciting, industry leading action.

What is Kimberly Clark doing now?
Here's the official press release:

"Washington, D.C., United States — Greenpeace and countless activists [yours truly included] have asked Kimberly-Clark (K-C) to help save the Boreal forest since 2004, when the Kleercut campaign was launched. In a tremendous victory for ancient forests, including the Boreal, the company that makes popular brands like Kleenex, Scott, and Cottonelle has announced a new policy that places it among the industry leaders in sustainability, bringing the Kleercut campaign to a successful completion.

Kimberly-Clark has set a goal of obtaining 100 percent of the wood fiber used in its products – including the flagship brand Kleenex – from environmentally responsible sources. By 2011, Kimberly-Clark will ensure that 40 percent of its North American fiber is either recycled or certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – a 71 percent increase from 2007 levels, representing over 600,000 tonnes of fiber. Also by 2011, Kimberly-Clark will eliminate any fiber from the North American Boreal Forest that is not FSC-certified.

“The revised standards are proof that when responsible companies and environmental advocates come together, the results can be good for business and good for the planet,” said Scott Paul, Greenpeace USA Forest Campaign Director. “Kimberly-Clark’s efforts are a challenge to its competitors. I hope they pay close attention.”

K-C’s sustainability policy: Not just about protecting the Boreal

The Canadian Boreal Forest is North America’s largest ancient forest, providing habitat for threatened wildlife such as woodland caribou and over 1 billion migratory birds.

But clearcutting doesn't just wipe out the biodiversity of a forest – it wipes out an essential carbon storehouse. Canada’s Boreal Forest stores an estimate 186 billion tones of carbon, 27 times the world’s annual fossil fuel emissions -- meaning that a victory for the Boreal is also a victory for the climate.

While protecting the North American Boreal Forest has been a focus of the Kleercut campaign, K-C’s policy is about protecting Endangered Forests the world over. Greenpeace would not have agreed to anything less.

Because of K-C’s place in the paper products market, the company’s new policy will send a strong signal to its competitors, Procter & Gamble and Georgia Pacific, that creating a policy that protects ancient forests is a key element of sustainable business.

Woo-hoo!!! So with that, how about a BIG round of applause for Kimberly Clark! I think it's important that we all take a moment to say thank you to Kimberly Clark for taking appropriate action to protect our ancient forests!



Tuesday, September 1, 2009