The Victoria's Secret catalogs are known for stirring up many thoughts, but forest preservation usually isn't the first one that comes to mind.
Which is why, according to advocacy group ForestEthics, the firm and its parent company Limited Brands should get a shout-out for pressing ahead with a program to increase the use of green-certified paper products for the catalogs -- even when the paper content issue has long faded from news headlines.
The company's use of paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council has grown to almost 88 percent compared to 2007 when the figure was about 23 percent, according to a review by PowerwaterhouseCoopers.
ForestEthics credited the bump-up in green-certified paper content as the result of a 5-year-old pact between the organization and Limited Brands, which was negotiated after a raucous protest in 2004.
At the time, demonstrators attempted to disrupt the launch of the Victoria's Secret "Angels Across America Tour," a promotion that featured photo ops with lingerie models. The protesters claimed that the brand printed an estimated 395 million catalogs a year and was destroying endangered forests in the process -- a charge that the company's paper supplier disputed.
In contrast, ForestEthics had nothing but praise yesterday for the paper sourcing efforts by Victoria's Secret and its corporate parent.
The organization called the percentage of FSC-certified paper use "exceptional for a large direct mailer" and had this prepared statement from Executive Director Todd Paglia:
"When ForestEthics strikes an agreement with a company, whether or not it's at the end of a confrontational campaign, we always hope that we'll still be doing great work together five years later. It doesn't always happen, but then again, not every company is as sincerely committed to reducing its impact on forests as Limited Brands."
Limited Brands didn't mention ForestEthics in announcing the PricewaterhouseCoopers finding but acknowledges the partnership when describing its environmental commitment on paper and forest products.