In a sign of things to come for corporate activism, The Gap, Timberland, Levi Strauss and Walgreens have just joined Whole Foods and Bed, Bath and Beyond in a boycott of petroleum products sourced from the notorious Alberta Tar Sands. As reported by Bob Weber of The Canadian Press, Federal Express has also adopted a policy that appears to lead toward joining the boycott.
The move comes just as scientists from the University of Alberta released a report on the mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium, and nine other toxins from tar sands operations found in the Athabasca River system. In the meantime, environmentalists in the U.S. are raising the alarm over tar sands-related damage in Montana, where new road construction is planned in order to accommodate trucks hauling massive pieces of equipment to the Alberta tar sands.
Corporate Responsibility and the Alberta Tar Sands
The boycott campaign is lead by a group called Forest Ethics. Also joining in is a coalition called Corporate Ethics International, which is running a similar campaign called ReThink Alberta. CEI’s involvement is interesting because the organization has launched campaigns to get big corporations such as Staples and Walmart to change their practices, and in the process found itself working with a growing number of corporations that have adopted responsible practices. In addition, shareholders have petitioned BP not to finance development in the tar sands, and Shell investors are also voicing their discomfort with the hazards of tar sands projects. As more big companies start to flex their green muscles, environmental groups are forging some powerful allies.
Image: Flag of Canada by scazon on flickr.com.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.