No FSC:

Back at the office Hai and the director talked in Vietnamese and I imagined it was to find out more about me and what kind of deal I was good for. I looked at the glossy company brochure. The picture on the cover showed the head offices standing in a beautiful forest. "Where is this office?" I asked, breaking up their huddle. "It's here." Said Hai, gesturing to the facility, "they superimposed the forest on the photo." "Virtual forest." I said, Hai nodded and laughed. I flicked through the catalogue using cues to ask questions. "So how much furniture do you produce?" "From here we ship thirty to forty large containers every fifteen days." "So what can you pack in a container?" "Oh, probably one hundred and fifty of these sets." The director pointed to a garden table, parasol and a set of four chairs. I tried to do the mental arithmetic but it wasn't happening with all the stuff going off in my head. I tapped out 80 x 150 and got 12000 on the desk calculator, I had to do it twice to be sure I wasn't going over the top. "Wow twelve thousand table and chair sets a month, that's good business." The director looked pleased at my recognition of the scale of his achievement. "I see that you have expansion plans." "Yes, we have already doubled in size this year." "So you're buying your timber from Laos and Malaysia?" "Yes and we use Vietnamese plantation rubber too."

I was ready to ask the questions I'd wanted to ask since I'd arrived. "So do you use any Cambodian timber?" "No, nothing from Cambodia." I changed track, "My clients only want to buy environmentally sound products. What safeguards to you have in place to make sure that what you use is sustainable?" "Everything is FSC certified, so you know it's sustainable. See it's here in our brochure" I could feel myself going red, 'the fucking liar' I said in my head but kept cool. "But that can't be. Laos and Vietnam have no FSC accredited forests and there are only three small ones in the whole of Malaysia." Now he wasn't sure, I'd set off alarm bells and definitely pissed him off. "No, everything is sustainable." He was closing the books and closing our meeting. He was avoiding eye contact too, "Perhaps you should decide what you want to buy. Then we can talk some more." He didn't mean it of course but he didn't know if I was trouble. I hoped I could be. "Of course, I will be in touch." I said, somehow wanting it to seem like a threat. It was over and Hai walked me out to the car. I let out a shout inside my head.

 

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