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1998-11-08
Atlanta, GA. Home Depot's Content Problem.

Special Notice to All Home Depot Suppliers: The company is having an on-going problem identifying the content of its merchandise, and kindly requests that manufacturers inform the company as to the exact contents of all products shipped to Home Depot. Recent protests by Greenpeace and the Rainforest Action League have suggested that Home Depot is carrying products which contain old growth lumber. Home Depot has responded to recent demonstrations by citizens in Atlanta, Seattle and Long Beach, CA by pointing out that Home Depot carries many, many products, and cannot possibly know whether some of these many, many products are made from old growth lumber. Home Depot, which says it is a leader in environmental practises, said the citizen protests were "misplaced criticism", since Home Depot does not cut down the trees or make them into products. Home Depot only SELLS them. "We don't cut down any trees," said Home Depot spokesperson Suzanna Apple. "We don't manufacture any products. The products that we carry we buy from manufacturers." Now that its clear that Home Depot is the wrong target, and that the people who SELL old growth lumber are not the ones to blame here, Home Depot went on to point out another problem the company is having: "It's difficult for us to know, difficult for anyone to know, the content of products in our stores." Why, you ask, is this such an impossible task, since Home Depot buyers MUST know whether or not they are buying products made from old growth lumber? The answer from Home Depot: "We sell 50,000 products." So beginning immediately, Home Depot vendors are asked to mark the content of their products in large letters-right on the product -- so Home Depot will henceforth know the content of what they're selling. Thank you.

What you can do: Does any of this "we're just the seller" remind you of what Wal-Mart said when confronted with videotapes of sweatshop factories producing goods made with child labor? Basically the large discount stores have suggested that they are just SELLING this stuff, they don't employ the kids -- their contractors do. It's the same "we don't cut down any trees" argument. When Harvard and Yale sell baseball caps made by children in the Dominican Republic, does anyone accept as responsible the claim that "we don't know the contents of products in our stores"? If Home Depot doesn't know the content of products in their stores -- then who else does? Maybe consumers ought to buy their home improvement products from a company than knows what goes into its products. If Home Depot is leading the industry in environmental practices, they could begin by requiring labels on their products which indicate that "this product was made with old growth lumber." Then at least Home Depot employees would know what went into their 50,000 products.










 
 
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