55,000 people urge Costco to stop wholesale forest destruction

January 23, 2020

Activists rally at company’s annual meeting, deliver petition calling out Kirkland, Charmin brands for contributing to climate crisis

BELLEVUE, WA — On January 22, four activist organizations will unite outside Costco’s annual general shareholder meeting to challenge the leading retailer on its commitment to protecting the environment. The coalition will hold a rally and deliver over 55,000 signatures urging the retailers urging the retailer to stop deforestation in its own products and in its supply chain.

Coinciding with the rally and petition delivery, SumOfUS has arranged for a 6.5’ high billboard bearing the slogan “Costco Stop Selling Forest Destruction” to circle the immediate area outside the venue to further draw attention to Costco’s role in fueling the climate crisis.

While Costco advertises itself as an ethical company for eco-conscious consumers, a closer look at the company’s products tell a different story. According to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Stand.earth, Costco’s own toilet paper Kirkland brand is one of the worst offenders fueling the destruction of one of the world’s largest intact forests, while stocking products on its shelves, like Charmin toilet paper made from the Boreal forest in Canada. The Boreal forest is critical in mitigating the worst effects of climate change, as it stores the carbon equivalent of nearly twice the world’s recoverable oil reserves in its soil. Costco also stocks beef from suppliers like Cargill and JBS that are burning down the Amazon rainforest for cheap beef. 

SumOfUs, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Mighty Earth, Stand.earth and Care2 argue that the widespread devastation of climate disasters is proof that Costco needs to take its role in protecting our planet seriously. Thus the groups strongly urge Costco executives to finally demonstrate the type of bold leadership needed to match the scale of our global climate crisis by adopting alternative solutions that prevent deforestation.

Leaders from this coalition of organizations issued the following statements:

“From the climate to extinctions, the planet is in crisis. Cutting down forests for toilet paper — simply so we can wipe our butts with fresh-cut trees — makes absolutely no sense,” said Jim Ace, Senior Campaigner at Stand.earth. “Costco sells Charmin toilet paper, which not only contains zero recycled fiber but is also partially sourced from the critical Boreal forest in Canada, home to endangered caribou. It’s time for Costco to stop flushing our forests.”

“Destroying the boreal forest for toilet paper is irresponsible during a time of climate crisis when forests are critical to mitigating the worst effects of climate change. Costco must take immediate action to ensure its toilet paper is not fueling the global climate crisis,” said Amelia Meister, Senior Campaigner at SumOfUS.

“Supermarkets like Costco rely on public trust that the products on the shelves are safe and produced in responsible ways. Stocking products from some of the most environmentally destructive suppliers on the planet is not only enabling the destruction of our forests and climate but making customers and shareholders complicit as well. Costco needs to terminate contracts with companies that are violating the commitment to sustainability that customers trust and expect when they walk through the aisles,” said Lucia von Reusner, Campaign Director at Mighty Earth.

“We are in a climate emergency, which means major retailers like Costco need to take drastic action to mitigate their roles in fueling the climate crisis,” said Shelley Vinyard, Boreal Corporate Campaign Manager for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “But by selling products like P&G’s Charmin and Bounty, Costco is choosing to flush the climate-critical boreal forest down the toilet. The world can no longer afford toilet paper made from ancient trees, even at Costco prices.”


Media contact: Jamila Brown, SumOfUs, 347-694-8546, press@sumofus.org