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Save the Redwoods — Boycott the Gap

by Mary Bull

Forest defenders launched the Save the Redwoods-Boycott the Gap Campaign (SRBG) in November 1998 to pressure the Fisher family, founders and major shareholders of Gap, Inc. (Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy), to turn their ravaged redwood holdings into a desperately needed wildlife preserve. The Fishers and their creation, Mendocino Redwood Company, have been logging the last merchantable timber — the last viable forest habitat — on this devastated forestland that spans 28 watersheds and 350 square miles of Mendocino and Sonoma Counties ever since they bought it from Louisiana Pacific in July 1998. As I write this, the situation could not be more perilous — with the ecosystem on the verge of collapse, and coho salmon, marbled murrelets, and northern spotted owls facing imminent extinction.

Through dozens of imaginative and powerful demonstrations over the past two years, the all-volunteer SRBG Campaign has garnered national and international media coverage of the critical issues of Fisher deforestation and Gap sweatshop labor (Gap, Inc. exploits desperately poor people to make its goods), and has inspired support for the Gap Boycott worldwide.

PMC, Raitt, and Brower join Gap Campaign

This past year has brought us powerful new allies: the brilliant non-profit Public Media Center, who designed our three New York Times ads and donated their services to the cause; beloved blues singer Bonnie Raitt, who recently wrote to the Fishers asking them to stop logging and make their holdings a state park; the late, legendary environmentalist David Brower, who paid for our second ad; and scores of fired-up grassroots activists who have been spreading the boycott message and organizing Gap actions around the world!

Court victories over the Fishers

In May 2000, we also won two lawsuits against the Fishers, in which two different judges ruled that four Fisher logging plans were illegal for inadequate environmental impacts analysis, failure to include spotted owl survey data, and other illegalities. If we had the resources, we'd fight all 200-plus harvest plans and win on these same grounds. The Fishers' response? To file the same plan under a different name and to file numerous new plans with the same illegalities.

After we ran our first ad in the New York Times in mid-August, we heard from insiders that the Fishers wanted to negotiate on the forest issue, but that they wanted to wait for their third-quarter earnings report. Instead, they bought a "green label" from an industry-friendly "certifying" group called the Forest Stewardship Council. We don't know how many hundreds of thousands of dollars the Fishers paid for this lying green-label on their lumber — the process is secret, the public is effectively shut out and is only given a general summary after the fact. We do know that the label is meaningless — to give you an example of how meanlingless it is, the certifiers gave the Fishers 50 years to stop clearcutting, and permit the Fishers to continue using toxic herbicides indefinitely.

Gap, Inc. on the Skids

In January 2000, Gap, Inc. began a rapid economic decline reflected in Gap stock prices dropping approximately 50% by mid-year, and December same-store sales down 6%. Market analysts say that the Gap does not have a breath of hope for recovery until the 2001 holiday shopping season. How much of this is due to the boycott is impossible to determine.

We do know that Gap-Fisher deforestation continues unabated, sweatshops proliferate, and the number of good people who still don't know about the boycott is staggering.

Winning in 2001!

Our mandate is to convince the Fishers that their corporation will not recover until they change their policies of exploitation in forest and factory. To this end, SRBG hammered out a campaign strategy to win in 2001. Central to this strategy is an International Day of Action against Gap, Inc, at which we hope to have at least one leafletter in front of every Gap store on the face of the earth (approximately 3000). We have begun a tidal wave of outreach to campuses, environmental groups, and others around the globe — a tidal wave that will come crashing down on the Fishers, if they do not do the right thing by forest and workers. For Redwoods and Workers, boycott Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy!

Please envision the Fishers' vastly depleted forestland as a flourishing wildlife preserve, and see their contract workers living and working in dignity, earning a wage that provides for their needs.

For those of you who would like to do more, please contact, (415) 731-7924,

Mary Bull is the Coordinator of the Save the Redwoods - Boycott the Gap Campaign.