Victoria's Secret, the lingerie chain famous for its scantily clad models, received some unwanted exposure recently when environmental groups took out a full-page ad in the New York Times accusing the company of destroying Canada's boreal forests.
The ad, featuring a winged model wearing a bustier and holding a chain saw, asked readers to pressure the lingerie firm to stop printing its catalogues on paper taken from Alberta's northern foothills.
"The cost of these catalogues isn't sexy," reads the ad.
The campaign, led by U.S.-based advocacy group ForestEthics and backed by Greenpeace in Canada, is aimed at getting the high-profile lingerie firm, which produces more than a million catalogues a day, to reduce its paper use. "The Canadian boreal is being logged at enormous rates for mainly U.S. products," said Tzeporah Berman, program director for ForestEthics, on the phone from San Francisco.
Half of Alberta's more than 400 million hectares of boreal forest has been allocated to logging companies. Almost 70,000 hectares are cut down each year. Berman wants clear-cut logging deferred in the foothills because the soil there holds massive amounts of carbon that, if released into the atmosphere, will add to climate change.
West Fraser spokesperson Eduarda Hodgins says from Vancouver that the company adheres to the sustainability model required by the Canadian Standards Association.
"They are claiming the Canadian boreal is just being pillaged, but less than 30 per cent has ever been touched by human hands," she says.
But the issue, says Greenpeace forest campaigner Richard Brooks, is not how the logging company operates, but where. "They are logging the oldest portions of the forest first, specifically the woodland caribou habitat," says Brooks. He adds that the forest is home to several endangered species, including the wolverine and grey wolf.
Limited Brands, the Ohio-based company that owns Victoria's Secret, says it is taking steps to reduce new paper use.
"Ten per cent of our clearance books are printed on 80-per-cent post-recycled paper and are 100-per-cent recyclable," says media rep Anthony Hebron. "We hope to gradually increase this across the country."