I DO believe that our individual actions make a difference. I DO believe that the waste we produce, habits we form, and voting with our dollars of what we want to see more and less of is a form of daily activism. BUT, this activism is not what saves the planet. All of us using bamboo toothbrushes is not going to rid the world of plastic ones. THE POINT of us using bamboo is to tell plastic suppliers we do not support them. We need to remove our money from their pockets and show them we want change.
Our economy runs on supply and demand. Businesses, no matter how good, bad, big or small, respond to the market. So if we don’t show that there is a difference in demand then there is no incentive for a profitable business to change. THIS is how the world changes and that is the point of our daily choices. I whole heartedly believe that. BUT, what can make an even greater change than boycotting in silence & voting elsewhere with our dollars is telling brand why we don’t support them, telling them what they could do to try to regain our support, and tell brands that we do support why we support them & what we’d like to see more of.
Same goes for policy. The process of being active in policy is similar to the process of influencing businesses. There are slight differences but for the sake of this post/video I’m going to make it simple enough to apply to both! And in the future, if needed, I will make them separate.
But in honor of Earth Day 2021, I challenge you to write to ONE business today. It can be complimenting them on their efforts or demanding they do more but whichever you choose, all that is important is that you DO IT!
And here is my 'how to' guide that has been long awaited...
3 EASY STEPS TO FOLLOW:
1. COMPLIMENT THEM
Yes, the customer is always right and they will read/ hear your message if it is simply a message sent in rage. But let’s be real, when’s the last time you received criticism that started with "YOU SUCK" and you walked away thinking, "yeah I should change"? So butter them up first. Tell them why you like them. If you are reaching out to a politician, tell them why you support them or why they should support you (AKA they are your representative).
2. TELL THEM THE PROBLEM
Is it waste? Is it transparency in their supply chain? Is it a policy they need to vote on? What is it that you think they should change and why? Explain the background of the issue and provide evidence for why their current practices are not ideal.
3. TELL THEM WHAT YOU THINK THEY SHOULD DO & WHY
Make this stand out and then ask obvious. There’s nothing worse than reading through an entire email and wondering, so what do they want me to do about it? AND, be clear about what’s in it for them. If you can, offer some solutions that you would like to see implemented and ways in which they can help shift towards these new changes and policies.
Some extra things you can do:
Offer any assistance you can! Can you provide examples? Can you offer your time? Can you connect them to a service or organization that can help them make the change?
Reread your message over and over. Make it as concise as possible. Providing too much information can often be overwhelming and result in a generic response and inaction. It is important to be deliberate & concise with your message.
Follow up. If they don’t respond then it is entirely appropriate to check in after a week or so.
If they don’t respond to one email then KEEP TRYING!
As an example, I emailed Native Deodorant every few months for years before they eventually changed to plastic free packaging.
So, here’s a recent example of something I did...
I recently contacted the brand of package free chicken scratch that I am able to get at my local feed store.
I explained to them that I love how I am able to purchase their grain package-free and that my chickens really enjoy their feed. However, I have recently become aware of how important conservational farming practices are to the health of our soils & to the planet. I explained to them that I could not find any information about conservational farming practices or how these practices are implemented on their farm anywhere on their website. I’d love to see more transparency on their site about how their farms are managed and provided some examples of farmers who do this.
I explained the results of bad farming practices on the Gulf of Mexico & water ways all across the Mississippi basin as well as the nutrient & soil loss and it’s impact of generations to come.
I then provided my video about dead zone in the gulf and specifically emphasized that according to the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at U of I, shifting to no-till would reduce soil loss and sediment yield by more than 70%.
I also made sure to tell them that I would GLADLY continue to pay more for their grains if I can assure the planet is being taken into consideration, package-free or not.
Lastly, I ended it by saying that I would be happy to answer any questions they have about the practices they could implement, that I had contacts with farmers who have seen improvements & savings with these practices from when I was researching the topic, and that my chickens would only love their feed more if it was a more sustainable grain.
A few things to keep in mind...
Say it without saying it. I like to hint at the fact that I would stop purchasing from said brand if they don’t change OR that I have switched to something else in the meantime.
Don’t insult without reason and explanation.
Don’t put a million different requests in the same email.
Remember, change within a business if oftentimes not speedy. (Not as long as the gov. takes, but not as fast as you may like!)
And lastly, the public open letter. SOCIAL MEDIA. This can help get others behind your cause and make your concerns public so that the brand feels more pressure to respond to your concerns rather than privately ignoring your email.
If you prefer to have this info in video format, check out the video below!
Letter Example for current legislation in Texas (4/22/2021)
I am writing today as a constituent of your district to ask that you support HB 4022 and SB 1276.
The beauty and health of our natural water resources and overall environment is at risk due to our increase in pollution and lack of incentives to do better.
As a state, Texas spends over $50 million annually to deal with litter & illegal dumping. Other states in similar programs have seen up to 97% participation!
Please use your power & authority to see that HB 4022 and SB 1276 are implemented in the lone star state!
How do I find out who my Representatives are?
Option No. 2 (Texas Specific) - https://wrm.capitol.texas.gov/home
Option No. 3 - Google "who is my representative"
How can I find current environmental legislation?
Option No. 2 - (search for environment) https://www.congress.gov/
Option No. 3 - https://www.govtrack.us/search?q=environment
Option No. 5 - Follow Non-profits & other organizations in your city & state (they usually push these through)
Option No. 6 - Follow environmental activist & enthusiasts (they usually share these things!)
I'm making this part of my regular content as well! @shelbizleee