Here is a letter to the editor from Kathy Abusow of Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc., written in response to our article featuring tips for buying green products and avoiding greenwashed ones.


Dear Editor:

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I am writing in response to an article that your website ran titled “Is It Really Green?” It was disappointing to read your statement about the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard® (SFI®). The fact is, SFI is an independent nonprofit organization and internationally endorsed forest certification program that is positively influencing the markets for certified forest products while improving forest practices across North America and promoting responsible procurement globally through the SFI Standard.

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As your article suggests, it can be difficult to differentiate between “green claims” in the marketplace. However, third-party audited forest certification programs like the SFI Standard make it easy for consumers, by providing a comprehensive labeling system that provides the assurance that the forest products they purchase come from well-managed forests and are legal.

The SFI program has the support of numerous conservation groups including NatureServe, The Conservation Fund, and Conservation International. In addition, SFI works with conservation groups to provide real, tangible benefits on 143 million acres across North America. We also work with nongovernmental organizations, such as Forest Trends and the World Bank, to seek solutions to the important issue of illegal logging. At the community level, we engage in many ways. A recent example is in Minnesota where SFI volunteers are giving their time to build a Habitat for Humanity home that will provide housing with wood from responsibly managed forests.

At a time when only 10 percent of the world’s forests are certified, we should not be playing favorites among the more than 50 forest certification standards worldwide. Improving forest management will require much more than that — Grist can be part of that solution by providing your audiences with the facts and a balanced story.

Kathy Abusow
President & CEO
Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc.

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Grist editors offer links for more info:

  • The Sustainable Forestry Initiative website.
  • The Don’t Buy SFI website, maintained by an alliance of environmental groups that includes Greenpeace, the National Wildlife Federation, the Rainforest Action Network, and the Sierra Club.
  • A 2004 Grist article about SFI. We haven’t done an update since this article was published, so some of SFI’s policies and practices may have changed in the four years since. As Abusow points out, the group did become an independent nonprofit last year. Its board still includes a number of executives from major timber companies, including Weyerhaeuser, International Paper, and Plum Creek Timber.