Skico takes issue with tissues
ASPEN ” The Aspen Skiing Co.’s latest environmental initiative is nothing to sneeze at.
The Skico has banished paper products from manufacturing behemoth Kimberly-Clark for its alleged environmental policies. That means diners at the Skico’s 15 restaurants won’t use Kimberly-Clark napkins when they bite into a cheeseburger and send ketchup squirting down their chins. Guests at the posh Little Nell Hotel won’t reach for a Kimberly-Clark Kleenex when they need to blow their nose.
And to show they really mean business, Skico officials have even decided to drop all printed references to Kleenex Corner, an iconic spot on Aspen Mountain on the catwalk that connects Spar Gulch and the top of Little Nell. Observant skiers and riders might have noticed the removal of a trail sign for Kleenex Corner before this season.
Kimberly-Clark is a multinational giant that makes everything from its famous Kleenex tissues to disposable diapers.
The Skico has implemented the paper product changes over the past few months, according to Matt Hamilton, Skico manager of community and environmental responsibility. The only hitch in the switch to other suppliers has been in the chairlift lines. Kleenex are still available in the metallic containers that grace the approach to nearly every lift. Nobody else makes an industrial-grade tissue that stands up to the elements like those Kimberly-Clark makes, Hamilton said. He hopes to find a suitable replacement by next ski season.
Auden Schendler, Skico executive director of community and environmental affairs, said skiers and riders can personally boycott the lift-line tissues. “We advocate the farmer’s blow – using your thumb,” he said.
Joking aside, Hamilton and Schendler are serious about the boycott. They sent a letter Monday to Thomas Falk, the chief executive officer of Kimberly-Clark in the U.S.
“We are taking these actions because Kimberly-Clark’s use of pulp from endangered forests and lack of recycled fiber in consumer tissue paper products is contradictory to our guiding principles,” the letter said.
The Skico wants the company to stop using fiber from endangered forests, increase its use of recycled fiber and only use virgin fiber from logging operations that follow procedures certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Schendler said the Skico learned about the campaign against Kimberly-Clark from environmental giant Greenpeace. He and Hamilton discovered a lot of the company’s products were used at Skico-owned restaurants and hotels. In many cases, the Skico facilities have switched to Georgia-Pacific products.
Information about allegations against Kimberly-Clark can be found at kleercut.net. On its website, Kimberly-Clark touts its selection by CRO Magazine as 23rd in the “100 Best Corporate Citizens” for 2007. It also prominently displays its 2005 sustainability report at http://www.kimberly-clark.com.
Schendler said he isn’t worried that the boycott will be viewed as too politically correct. Instead, he figures some Skico customers will ask “why bother”? His reply was that boycotts by high-profile individuals or companies, like the Skico, can add up to force change even if they appear individually insignificant.
Dropping the printed references to Kleenex Corner is meant to draw attention to the effort, even if locals retain the name. Old-timers said the name Kleenex Corner dates back to the 1960s, at least. The name will be taken off trail maps for the 2007-08 season unless Kimberly-Clark mends its ways.
“It would be fun to change it to Kleercut Corner,” Schendler said.
Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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