Today I want to invite you to try a kind of advocacy that you might enjoy: Being in direct contact with businesses who are making—or could make—a difference in our world. First a story…..
I love apples, and so have enjoyed a Trader Joe’s “Autumn Glory” apples, produced by the good folks at SuperFresh Growers in Yakima, Washington. Because Trader Joe’s has recently agreed to start limiting plastic—and because these apples come in plastic bags—I thought maybe I could advocate about this matter. I found the name for the company on the apples’ bag and set to work. SuperFresh’s web site told me good things about their business, including their mailing address. Taking out trusty pen and paper, I wrote a short note. First I thanked them for this remarkable (new?) apple, and then asked how they were trying to limit plastic packaging. Given what appears to be high integrity in this company, I expect to hear back from them. I think that what I did as “advocacy at the source.”
Now back to you. If you’re an older adult, if you buy products with labels and if you have pen and paper and stamps on hand, you could engage in this same kind of advocacy. Pick a product—any product that you want to agitate about—and find the name of the company, not the distributor. Find the company’s web site, look for a CONTACT US link, and write/call the company about your concern or your admiration.
Don’t stop with environmental matters. Ask about the company’s wage structures, their carbon footprint, their commitment to treating their workers well. Don’t harangue or hector them, and don’t go on and on. Instead, use inviting or encouraging language to let the company know that the production, shipping, marketing and disposal of their product could be part of the kind of world we all want to live in. Tell them that you’re a senior citizen—a major consumer demographic—and ask them for a response.
This can work in the most surprising places. (I once called the Gillette Razor folks to ask whether their razor blade cartridges were recyclable.) Think about products (and services) you use every day, items and activities that make your life satisfying and full.
Why I like this kind of advocacy: Instead of complaining, I’m talking directly to business leaders who, perhaps like me, want to live justly. They want to be responsible and ethical in their niche within the larger society. It’s also more likely that I’ll hear back from them—I’m a customer, after all!—than if I address my concerns to already overworked and overstressed politicians. Direct communications from customers could make a difference in how any company perceives its work. And I believe that most businesses want to do what’s right!
One of these days, try this idea for fun. Perhaps one letter a day, about a different item each time. To make the effort a little more challenging, see how you might gather a few other folks around you—a prayer or breakfast group, or as part of the advocacy efforts at your church?–to challenge and encourage the businesses who produce the abundance of goods that make life good. See what comes of your advocacy, and let me know what happens.
And serve some delicious SuperFresh Autumn Glory apples for refreshments, of course!