- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2002

An environmental group's fund-raising letter to protect the rain forests claimed to use tree-free paper but was actually made from tree products, laboratory tests show.
The Rainforest Action Network asked recipients of the letter to dig into their pockets and "help compensate for the extra cost of using tree-free paper."
California resident John Campbell questioned the claim's validity and paid an independent laboratory $100 to conduct the fiber analysis. Yesterday, Mr. Campbell asked the U.S. Postal Inspector to investigate the group's fund-raising activities.
"As an organization that bills itself to the public as dedicated to the protection of forests, RAN has committed an especially serious breach of trust by falsely representing to potential donors that its effort to raise money from them has involved no exploitation of timber resources," Mr. Campbell said in a letter to the U.S. Postal Inspector requesting the investigation.
Sara Brown Riggs, spokeswoman for RAN, said the claims are a hoax.
"We wrote the book on tree-free paper, so we are confident that this is just a hoax," Miss Riggs said.
"We are committed to tree-free alternatives and are flattered that so much attention is being paid to our organization," she said.
Attempting to obtain money by means of false or fraudulent pretenses through the U.S. mail is a federal crime, Mr. Campbell said.
"RAN appears to have engaged in such activity by sending through the U.S. mail the attached fund-raising letter, which relies in significant part on a false claim to induce contributions to RAN," Mr. Campbell said in the letter.
"I urge you to take action to ensure that this organization which raises millions of dollars annually is deterred from making any future efforts to defraud the public," Mr. Campbell said.
A copy of the lab analysis by Integrated Paper Service Inc. was included in the complaint to the Postal Inspector.
Fiber analysis found that the three-page letter contained "virtually all" wood pulp, including maple, beech, birch, spruce, hemlock, fir and ash.
"These pulp fibers appear to be from North American tree species," said the report authored by Walter J. Rantanen, supervisor of the fiber science group.
Integrated Paper Services Inc. is an independent testing and research lab in Wisconsin that performs quality control testing for the pulp and paper industry, said Mr. Rantanen, who confirmed that his company produced the report.
Each page of RAN's fund-raising letter was labeled at the bottom: "Printed on 100 percent tree-free paper with soy-based ink."
Tree-free paper is made from a variety of fibers, including kenaf crops a relative of the hibiscus plant and industrial hemp, as well as agriculture-waste byproducts such as cereal, straw, corn stalks, sugar-cane pulp and cotton, according to RAN.
Mr. Rantanen said he found none of those fibers in his analysis, except for a trace of cotton.
Mr. Campbell makes his living as a fund-raiser for Republican candidates, and said he follows the fund-raising techniques of other organizations.
"This letter was so much about saving the rain forest and printed on tree-free paper, I was curious to see if it was true or not and it turns out it's not true," Mr. Campbell said.
The Dec. 5 fund-raising letter asks for contributions to support RAN's campaign against logging in Indonesia, as well as soliciting additional money to help pay for the tree-free paper.
RAN was created in 1985, and as part of its six-point platform is dedicated to diversifying fiber supply, such as tree-free paper.
"It would be one thing if they were actually using tree-free paper, then that might actually be kind of noble, but this is hypocritical," Mr. Campbell said.


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