Environmental intelligence

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) are the James Bonds of the green movement, an international campaigning organization that investigates and exposes environmental crime by going deep undercover.

The New Yorker‘s Raffi Khatchadourian tails EIA as they track Walmart toilet seats and baby cribs back to illegal ramin wood loggers and mafias in China and Russia

In 2003, von Bismarck picked up the trail in Singapore, where he went undercover and met with a trafficker who boasted that profits from black-market ramin were “better than drug smuggling.” In Malaysia, he met with associates of an underworld figure known as the Ramin King, who described how the wood was given false Malaysian paperwork to obscure its origins.

In Taiwan, he secretly filmed a baby-crib manufacturer named Jim Lee, who made products that were sold at J. C. Penney, and who said that he was shipping thousands of cribs made with ramin to Wal-Mart, “even though it is smuggled.”

Von Bismarck presented this information to Taiwanese officials, who raided Lee’s facilities and barred half of his stock from export. (Lee now maintains that his wood was legal.) Von Bismarck also contacted J. C. Penney and Wal-Mart—both took steps to remove items made of ramin from their stores.

The article is here.

This is a video of how a tree from halfway around the world becomes a toilet seat at your local Wal-Mart.

And this is an excellent podcast discussion with reporter Raffi.