E-mail campaign halts deforestation program

Last October, Phi Gamma Delta and Alpha Omega Epsilon—two members of the Green Greeks—brought a campaign started by Greenpeace to Rensselaer’s campus. Greenpeace is a global environmental organization that influences environmental policy in many nations. The campaign was aimed at getting a company called Asia Pulp and Paper to change their policies and cancel their programs of illegal deforestation. More than two thousand e-mails were sent to customers of the company to inform them of the company’s illegal practices. These e-mails were sent by students and staff at Rensselaer.

Asia Pulp and Paper’s activities devastated rainforests and peatlands around the world. The Sumatran tiger and the orangutan were among the many species threatened by the firm’s policies. A few months after the e-mails were sent, I was very pleased to hear that they had canceled their deforestation programs and that Greenpeace had subsequently suspended their active campaign against the firm. The company has also agreed to issue a moratorium on the clearing of natural forests and peatlands, protect all forest lands across its supply chain, begin a policy-making process to resolve and avoid social conflicts, and independently monitor its progress.

Although the active campaign has been suspended, Greenpeace still intends to follow up on Asia Pulp and Paper to make sure they are properly fulfilling their promises. Greenpeace can also use this victory to pressure other paper companies to follow suit. Upon hearing this news, I was overjoyed at the impact that we, as a community, were able to make. While it is true that it is impossible to tell whether the e-mails sent by the Rensselaer community made a difference, it is the spirit behind our actions that matters. In light of this, I would like to thank the Rensselaer students and faculty who contributed as well as highlight another way in which Rensselaer has changed the world.