Starbucks, Dell to aid online effort to save rainforest

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Environmental activists are taking to the Internet in a new bid to help save the world’s rainforests with the help of major corporations including Starbucks Corp and Dell Inc.

Aerial view shows farmland next to the Amazon rainforest in Mato Grosso state in this August 9, 2005 file photo. REUTERS/Bruno Domingos/Files

Campaigners plan to announce on Monday the formation of “Team Earth,” a social network that includes businesses, nongovernmental organizations, students and politicians with the hope of battling tropical deforestation.

Team Earth will launch in November, but its organizers wanted to spread the word this week, as world leaders gather in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

“This is a moment when leaders around the world need to take action. We cannot afford for our representatives ... not to take action, so we’re mobilizing the public,” said Peter Seligmann, chief executive of Conservation International, which is spearheading the effort.

Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz said he joined forces with Conservation International over shared concerns over “divergent efforts of many separate parties -- NGOs, corporations, politicians and individuals -- trying to do something in which perhaps the sum of the parts could be greater if there was collective action.”

Schultz said it makes business sense for companies to take serious action against social and environmental issues because it is important to employees and customers.

“In order to make a sustainable enduring business that’s profitable, you’re also going to have to create a balance between profitability and a social conscience,” Schultz said in an interview.

Some of Starbucks’ existing environmental targets include having all of its new company-operated stores meeting green building standards starting in 2010 and having all of its cups recyclable by 2012.

Actor Harrison Ford, a Conservation International board member best known as the star of the “Indiana Jones” films, is supporting the effort, and told Reuters that large-scale cooperation was best.

“Our individual efforts have been fruitful but history shows that real change is not accomplished through individual efforts but through movements,” Ford said, noting that governments and corporations must also be involved.

Team Earth will use social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter, along with its own site, to gather support for its causes, which also include climate change, water conservation and health.

Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by Marguerita Choy