Boston, November 30, 2023 – Green Century Capital Management° has filed a shareholder proposal at The Home Depot asking the company to address risks associated with potential titanium mining along the eastern boundary of Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp. Headquartered in Atlanta, Home Depot is a major carrier of titanium dioxide-based paint. Green Century was joined in the filing by the Felician Sisters of North America, a national order of catholic sisters that seek to leverage societal change through shareholder advocacy.
“Home Depot acknowledges that sustainability efforts make its business stronger, more agile, and more resilient,” said Green Century President Leslie Samuelrich. “A permanent commitment to protect the Okefenokee would do just that.”
At 438,000 acres, the Okefenokee Swamp is one of the world’s largest intact freshwater wetlands. More than 402,000 acres are protected in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, the largest refuge in the eastern United States and home to hundreds of plant and animal species. The Okefenokee also stores over 400M tons of CO2 equivalent, making it one of the largest natural carbon sinks in North America.
Twin Pines Minerals, LLC has applied for permits to mine titanium on Trail Ridge, the swamp’s eastern hydrologic boundary. Scientific consensus indicates that Twin Pines’ project would significantly damage the Okefenokee by drawing down its water level and increasing risk of drought and landscape-level fires. Such events could destroy swamp wildlife habitat, damage thousands of acres of adjacent private timberland and release significant carbon emissions.
“Pope Francis, in his encyclical, On Care For Our Common Home, states: ‘The earth’s resources are also being plundered because of short-sighted approaches to the economy, commerce and production,’” said Sister Jean Sliwinski, sustainability coordinator with Felician Sisters of North America. “Mining along the edge of this resource puts too much at risk with the potential for irreversible damage to this fragile ecosystem.”
These concerns have fueled heightened public attention and controversy. Over 100,000 comments were submitted to Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division opposing TPM’s draft Mining Land Use Plan in early 2023, and polling indicates that nearly 70% of Georgians want Governor Kemp to deny TPM’s permits. Furthermore, Okefenokee is being nominated for inclusion on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site List, and the issue has received significant media coverage.
While Home Depot has confirmed that its primary paint suppliers do not currently have plans to source TiO2 from the proposed Twin Pines mine, it has not made a public commitment regarding future titanium sourcing.
“Mining has no place near an ecological gem like the Okefenokee,” said Annie Sanders, director of shareholder advocacy with Green Century. “With headquarters in the Okefenokee’s backyard, Home Depot has a unique opportunity to bolster its environmental image with customers, employees and shareholders, many of whom care deeply about the swamp’s future, all while protecting the company from serious financial and systemic risks.”
About Green Century Funds
°Green Century Capital Management, Inc. (Green Century) is the investment advisor to the Green Century Funds (The Funds). The Green Century Funds are one of the first families of fossil fuel-free, environmentally responsible mutual funds. Green Century hosts an award-winning and in-house shareholder advocacy program and is the only mutual fund company in the U.S. wholly owned by environmental and public health nonprofit organizations.
*As of 9.30.2023, The Home Depot comprised 0.94%, 1.59%, and 0.00% of Green Century Balanced Fund, the Green Century Equity Fund, and the Green Century International Index Fund respectively. As of the same date, other securities mentioned were not held in the portfolios of any of the Green Century Funds. References to specific securities, which will change due to ongoing management of the Funds, should not be construed as a recommendation by the Funds, their administrator, or their distributor.
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The Green Century Funds are distributed by UMB Distribution Services, LLC. 235 W Galena Street, Milwaukee, WI 53212. November/2023