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AUGUST 26, 1999  4:21 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
Rainforest Action Network
Mark Westlund: ranmedia@ran.org
Michael Brune: mbrune@ran.org
Telephone: 415/398-4404
Home Depot Announces Commitment to Stop Selling Old Growth Wood; Announcement Validates Two-Year Grassroots Environmental Campaign
 
SAN FRANCISCO - August 26 - "With Home Depot taking the lead in phasing out of old growth wood products, we expect other do-it-yourself retailers will follow suit. Home Depot's timeline still needs to be fleshed out, and we are eager to work with them on this, but when the sun sets this evening it will have been a great day for the forests! "

- Michael Brune, Old Growth Campaign Director

After suffering the brunt of a two-year grassroots campaign urging Home Depot to stop selling old growth wood products, the retail leader announced today 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 today's announcement, Home Depot has taken a leadership role in the U.S. 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."

For the past two years, forest protection leader Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has led an international campaign urging Home Depot to stop selling old growth wood. 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, coordinated a hard-hitting national ad campaign, and organized demonstrations at several hundred Home Depot across the U.S. and Canada, as well as in Chile.

"We need to say thank you to all of the groups and individuals who have worked on this campaign," said RAN's Old Growth Campaign Director Michael Brune. "I don't think a single week has gone by in the past two years that RAN or one of its partners weren't out in the streets protesting Home Depot's egregious wood sales." Groups include Forest Action Network, Rainforest Relief, Student Environmental Action Coalition, Free the Planet, Sierra Student Coalition, Action Resource Center, American Lands Alliance, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earth Culture, and many others.

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 over 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 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 Rainforest Action Network'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 U.S. 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. Europe's largest home improvement center, B&Q, has nearly completed removing old growth wood from its shelves.

For a complete timeline of the Home Depot campaign, visit RAN's website at http://www.ran.org/ran_campaigns/old_growth/homedepot/timeline.html, or call for a hard copy. Home Depot spokesman Jerry Shields is available at 770/384-2741.

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