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How to Write to a Company or Elected Official About Plastic Reduction Policies

One of the things I’ve been inspired to do lately since starting the Plastic-Free July EcoChallenge (you can join our team if you want to participate!) is to contact businesses and elected officials to encourage them to implement plastic reduction policies. This can be a great way for many of us to make a difference even during a time when it might be a little trickier to keep up all of our low waste habits. Sounds like a good idea, but don’t know where to start or what to say? We’re here to help!

Businesses

Businesses are naturally very inclined to listen to their customers’ feedback and pay attention to our spending habits because we’re what keeps them in business, so if we’re not happy, they’re not happy. We all know countless businesses who use plastic packaging or shipping materials. Some are conventional brands with products you’ve used for years and others are mission-driven brands that in many ways already reflect your values. Use your voice and your money to send them a message. Find their contact information at the bottom of their web pages and send them an email. 

Sample Template and Suggestions:

Hi, {Insert Brand Name} team!

Paragraph 1: Share what you appreciate about them as a brand, especially if you’re already a customer. If you want a human to read this, care, and respond, then write with a human in mind. Giving credit where credit is due is a great way to make them feel like you see the hard work they’re already doing. If all they hear is negative feedback when they feel like the company is already going above and beyond in many ways, they might be tempted to get defensive and write off your complaints.

Example:

I am a big fan of your products. I’ve tried several and love them all. I have been buying exclusively clean beauty products for the past several years, and yours are some of the highest quality I’ve come across. I’ve been telling my friends and family for years about the wonder of Limitless Lash and have converted several along the way. Something I also really appreciated about your brand from the beginning, in addition to your clean and potent botanical ingredients was your packaging. A lot of your products came in aluminum packaging instead of plastic, but lately I’ve been noticing that you still use more plastic packaging and shipping materials than I’m comfortable with.

Paragraph 2: 

Share your hangup with plastic.

Example:

Plastic is the one thing holding me back from making more purchases from your brand in the future. While I’m aware of the benefits of using plastic for packaging, including protecting and preserving products as well as minimizing the cost and carbon emissions associated with shipping, any cost savings from using plastic come at the expense of our bodies and environment, with marginalized communities being the most impacted by the harmful pollution associated with plastic's production and disposal. At this point, I am choosing to prioritize those factors.

Hit ‘em with some stats if you’re not sure they’ll get the picture! (This paragraph borrowed from our blog post: “7 Reasons to (Seriously) Consider a Low Waste Lifestyle.”)

Only 9% of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic we’ve ever produced has been recycled, while 79% has ended up in landfills or is floating around the planet as litter. When it ends up in landfills, many of those toxic chemicals seep into the ground, contaminating the groundwater and our other water sources. The 8 million metric tons that end up in the oceans every year poisons wildlife, causing harm to us when we consume them and long-term damage to those ecosystems. 12% of the plastic we’ve produced has been incinerated, which can help produce energy but also emits greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants into the air. Even the process of recycling takes energy (often not so clean energy - 73% of our electricity in the US comes from fossil fuels, 20% from nuclear power, and only 17% from renewables), so while it might be our best disposal option, reducing our plastic use and production is the best way to limit the havoc it wreaks on our planet and bodies.

Paragraph 3:

Wrap up your argument, and make it clear that your future spending and promotion of this brand will be tied to their implementation of these recommended policy changes.

I know this is something you may have already considered in the past. I just wanted to express that you have at least one customer who takes the impacts of their purchases really seriously when choosing products. I'd love to support a brand whose practices align with these values.

Thank you for your consideration,

{Your Name}

Elected Officials

Another way you can make a difference is by contacting your local elected officials and imploring them to consider plastic reduction policies. Do a little research first to see if there are any ongoing campaigns you can get behind or bills you can encourage them to support. It’s often the most helpful to recommend a specific solution, and plastic reduction policies are often incremental like Ditch the Straw or Ban the Bag movements. Make it easier for your representatives to take action by suggesting a specific policy they can promote and focus in on that. (This is a great template for encouraging local officials to implement a Plastic Bag Ban policy.)

Nothing already going on in your area? Don’t be afraid to get it going! Check here for examples of other plastic reduction policies that have been implemented elsewhere.

Next, figure out which elected officials represent you on the federal, state, and local levels and how to contact them. Don’t be afraid to contact multiple!

If they’ve been doing a good job, this is a great time to share positive feedback. If you’re not so pleased with them, we still recommend keeping your communication respectful. We’re each representing a larger movement, and the goal is to get more people on our team.

We appreciate each and every time you use your voice for our collective benefit. As a thank you for your hard work, BCC us at hello@shopwithgoodintent.com in one of your emails to receive 15% off one item on your next order! 

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