On a hot September afternoon somewhere outside San Jose, four Greenpeacers hashed out a plan to talk with KFC employees and their managers at a KFC franchise restaurant to raise the issue of KFC’s role in rainforest destruction. This was a new tactic for these eager volunteers: Jesse “the Wizard,” his girlfriend Sara “Sassafras,” Eri “the Ninja” and your humble narrator.
Smelling of patchouli and armed with smiles, this motley crew strolled on up to the ordering counter unannounced. A friendly KFC employee stood behind the register with his finger on the screen ready to take our order, only we weren’t there for the chicken. “Steven,” as I will refer to him, knew his stuff. Before we could say anything, he was already asking, “Hello, welcome to KFC, what can I get you this evening?” We told Steven that we weren’t there to place an order, rather we were Greenpeace activists who were hoping to ask him about rainforest destruction.
We explained to Steven that there are less than four-hundred Sumatran Tigers left in the world today in part because their home, the Indonesian rainforest, is being cut down at alarming rates so that companies like KFC can wrap up their chicken and fast foods in throw away paper packaging.
“That seems pretty messed up,” he said, “but what can I do about it?”
His question was spot on. “Our goal was to see how much you knew about this campaign and to ask you for your help in raising these issues with your managers” we replied.
It turned out Steven’s manager had no idea that Greenpeace is running a campaign to clean up KFC’s paper supply chain, so we’ve still got some work to do. During our visit, Steven’s manager agreed to raise the issue with his regional managers.
On the way out the door, I heard a faint tune coming over the KFC radio. At first I thought nothing of it, but now its profoundness hits me;
“They took all the trees
And put ‘em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half to seem ‘em
Don’t it always seem to go,
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot”…
One week later, the San Jose Greenpeace team was at it again, visiting two more stores for an impromptu chat with employees. So the heat is turning up on KFC, because we don’t want to see the Indonesian rainforest in a tree museum or a chicken bucket.
Blog written by Jonathan Zinke, San Jose Frontline Campaign Coordinator