Have you ever eaten a snack that came in way too much packaging? Or saw that one of the ingredients in your snack is palm kernels which you just learned was actually just as bad for deforestation and biodiversity as palm oil? Did this bother you?
What can we do about the problematic nature of so many products we consume regularly? Is it just a case of spreading the message with friends or should it go deeper than that? It’s hard to think that a brand as big as Cadbury or Mars or Nestlé would actually listen to our deep-seated issues with their products. Is the best way to reach them by writing to them continuously, non-stop? Writing pieces calling out these brands online or on personal blogs?
Other ways we can make our voice heard is by signing petitions especially from NGOs like Greenpeace or Sum of Us and then sharing those petitions. We can comment on the businesses’ posts on social media and share their posts with our own thoughts as captions.
If it seems like there’s no one listening on the brand side, then maybe it’s a case of finding an alternative brand that makes a similar product but in a more sustainable way. For instance, you could opt for non dairy milk if you find the treatment of cows problematic. You could also opt for a milk delivery service that comes in glass bottles, if you think the packaging of your favourite milk companies is difficult to recycle. Opting for more sustainable options is surely a good idea however, without a mass drop out from consumers, this does not necessarily help poorly performing companies to improve in line with consumer demands.
Instead, one way of reaching out to brands and really having your voice heard is to use the wherefrom sustainability reviewing platform. The idea is that the more people who review products, the more pressure there will be on brands to listen to their consumers and to start strategising on how they can innovate, improve and minimise their environmental and social impacts.
Sustainable businesses listen to their consumers. For instance, Oatly found a new way of upcycling their oat fibre residues after experiencing backlash from their vegan community for sending the fibres to local pig farms. They responded by innovating the space and researching how they can upcycle fibres into new materials or use them as inputs for biogas to provide energy to their facilities.
As such, consumer voice is important and the most audacious and risk-taking companies will listen. However, reaching out to bigger brands who don’t always listen requires knowing which medium to use to get your voice heard. It’s not always clear, and it is worth trying all avenues in order to share your opinion and perception of the ways businesses operate.