Let's hear it for consumer pressure

Posted by jossc — 27 June 2007 at 12:39pm - Comments

Our campaign against toxic e-waste in computers and electronic equipment is starting to show results, with many of the biggest names in the business tripping over themselves in the rush not to be left on the bottom rung of our Green Electronics Guide.

The biggest success so far has undoubtedly been courtesy of Green my Apple, which gave Mac fans the opportunity to voice their opinions in a very personal and creative way. Thousands of us took the opportunity to question how Apple could be so bad on recycling, and their image as one of the world's most clued-up and aware companies took a pounding.

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Check out our list of recent campaign successes

A similar process seems to be underway with our sustainable seafood challenge to the UK's major supermarkets to remove endangered fish species from their shelves. That inate desire not to be tagged 'the worst' has led to some frankly surprising improvements in policies from corporate giants like ASDA (Walmart in disguise), Sainsbury's and Morrisons. In fact in both these areas more results have been achieved by engaging directly with the companies than through lobbying the politicians who are supposedly responsible for regulating them.

These are significant developments, and the only explanation for them is the obvious one - it's commercial suicide to ignore your customers' wishes. There are those in the campaigning world who remain convinced that what we here at Greenpeace tend to call cyberactivism - asking as many concerned citizens as possible to whizz off a pithy email to some company boss about a failure of their corporate policy - isn't proper campaigning and doesn't produce 'real' results.

But the fact is that, if the campaign is well-judged, loss of market-share becomes a real prospect: in a competive market-place this is a formidable prospect for many companies, even if few of them would admit to it being their principle motivation.

So let's hear it for consumer pressure - it's only one strand in our campaigning arsenal, but used judiciously it's becoming one of the most potent. It's also one that you can engage in, even if you only have 10 minutes a week to spare, and more and more of you are doing exactly that.

If you haven't found the time recently to wite a letter to the CEO of some under-performing company and demand that they sort their act out, take a look at our current list of cyberactions and give it a go. Just sending a letter feels pretty good - getting a positive reaction and some actual progress from a big multinational company feels even better!

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