Victoria’s Secret Goes Green, Sort of


Reverend Billy works it.

Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping Choir were outside the Victoria’s Secret in Herald Square on Wednesday crowing for victory with the news that parent company Limited Brands has decided to stop clearcutting endangered forests to produce its ubiquitous catalogs.

Bowing to pressure from the advocacy group Forest Ethics, Reverend Billy, and scores of other activists, Limited Brands announced today that it would both expand its use of recycled paper and stop using pulp from endangered portions of Canada’s Boreal Forest and the Inland Temperate Rainforest in British Columbia.

The company also said it would immediately stop buying paper logged from forests where Canada’s declining population of woodland caribou range.

Although the company’s pledge to shift its flagship catalog to 10 percent recycled paper (or other eco-friendly stock) by the first of the year may seem modest, environmentalists hope that by fueling demand for recycled paper, it will help transform the retail catalog industry. (Limited Brands is one of the world’s biggest paper buyers.)

“If the whole catalog industry shifted to using paper with just 10 percent post-consumer recycled content, it would be enough to build a six-foot fence seven times across North America,” said Forest Ethics program director Tzeporah Berman.

Limited Brands says it will up the percentage of recycled paper it uses in coming years as supply expands, and reduce the number of Victoria’s Secret catalogs it prints, although it wouldn’t commit to any firm target.

Nonetheless, activists were mighty pleased. “This is the best Christmas present we could possibly have. We’re just delighted,” boasted a beaming Reverend Billy. This time instead of a protest, he and his choir showed up with “Thank You!” signs as they
serenaded shoppers with anti-consumption songs, then “exorcized” a pair of scantily clad Victoria’s Secret “angels” bearing toy chainsaws.

Limited Brands has been churning out more than 350 million catalogs a year—using trees logged primarily from Canada’s Boreal, which is one of the largest intact forests left in the world. Activists have called that Victoria’s Dirty Secret.

The Boreal is also the world’s largest terrestrial storehouse for carbon, which makes its preservation vital for curbing global warming.

Currently, the Boreal is being logged at a rate of two acres per minute—or an area the size of Manhattan every 5 days.