MSU students are imploring Kellogg’s food company to stop doing business with Wilmar International, a palm oil supplier destroying rainforests and threatening the endangered Sumatran tiger.
Student volunteers spent hours Wednesday on Grand River Avenue sidewalk outside Espresso Royale recruiting passersby to call Kellogg’s and make their voices heard. Call-in events were held across the state in Grand Rapids, Battle Creek, Ann Arbor and East Lansing.
Forest Heroes is a campaign centered around saving the Sumatran tiger. Group members organized a day of action on Wednesday, encouraging citizens throughout the state to generate calls to Michigan-based Kellogg’s.
Wilmar, a leader in the palm oil industry, bulldozes Indonesian land, harming the natural habitat, Forest Heroes Field Organizer Becca Neubardt said.
“Palm oil is a cheap oil because it’s often grown on deforested land,” Neubardt said. “Wilmar also uses slave and child labor to keep their product cheap. And they threaten the Sumatran tigers that are native to the Indonesian rainforests.”
Kellogg’s has a $10 million joint venture with Singapore-based Wilmar International. Wilmar supplies Kellogg’s with cheap palm oil, a key ingredient in many breakfast cereals.
Psychology sophomore and volunteer Chelsea Hullmc said while MSU is making greater sustainability efforts, they have chances such as these to make a global difference.
“Wilmar has made Indonesia a top driver of climate change, but as an average Michigander I can’t just call Wilmar and expect anything to get done,” Hull said. “Something like this, with the MSU community on board, can actually make an impact.”
Education sophomore John Elliott said he heard about Forest Heroesmc from his roommate and eventually volunteered to wear a Tony the Tiger costume while recruiting on Grand River Avenue.
“It sounded like fun, and I’m a vegetarian — I feel passionately about animals,” Elliott said. “I told them if they got a tiger suit, I would wear it.”
Students were given phone numbers and sample scripts and were asked to call Kellogg’s executives to express concern over the Wilmar partnership. They were then asked to post about the cause on Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts.
Family and Community Services student Michelle Brisse was on her way to the bus stop when she spoke to Elliott and decided to make a call.
“Why not? What does it hurt?” Brisse said. “It seems like a pretty easy way to help the environment.”