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Tissues boycotted in Aspen

Scott Condon
Vail, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The Aspen Skiing Company’s latest environmental initiative is nothing to sneeze at.

The company has banished paper products from manufacturing behemoth Kimberly-Clark for its alleged environmental policies. That means diners at the company’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, the company has 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 a trail sign for Kleenex Corner was removed before this season.

Kimberly-Clark is a multinational giant that makes everything from its famous Kleenex tissues to disposable diapers.

Aspen has been changing its use of paper product over the last few months, said to Matt Hamilton, manager of community and environmental responsibility.

The only hitch in the switch to other suppliers has been in the chairlift lines. Kleenex can still be found in the metallic containers on the approach to nearly every lift.

Nobody else makes an industrial-grade tissue that stands up to the elements like those made by Kimberly-Clark, but he hopes to find a suitable replacement by next ski season, Hamilton said.

Skiers and snowboarders can boycott the lift-line tissues, said Auden Schendler, the company’s executive director of community and environmental affairs.

“We advocate the farmer’s blow ” using your thumb,” he said.

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.

Aspen 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 Aspen learned about the campaign against Kimberly-Clark from environmental giant Greenpeace. He and Hamilton discovered a lot of the Kimberly-Clark’s products were used at the ski company’s restaurants and hotels. In many cases, the company’s facilities have switched to products made by Georgia-Pacific.

Information about allegations against Kimberly-Clark can be found at kleercut.net. On its Web site, 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.

Boycotts by high-profile individuals or companies, like Aspen, can add up to force change even if they appear individually insignificant, Schendler said.

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 at least to the 1960s. 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.


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