Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The pen is mightier then the...pocket book?

I have said this before and I will say it again. I am relatively new to this whole environmentally friendly thing and other then recycling, haven't done much until recently.

The last couple of years though, I have participated in some online email campaigns touting the evils of various legislation and asking my senators and congressman to vote against policy that is sure to destroy our planet and every single living thing on it. Really.

At the same time I have worked for companies that paid me to contact average Jane's and Joe's and discuss current pending legislation that will surely doom them to poverty through a variety of cost increases if they don't ACT NOW! If they are properly convinced, I would then proceed to write a letter on their behalf asking their representative to take appropriate action to prevent said evil. The letter would then be mailed directly to that very same Jane or Joe in a pre addressed and stamped envelope ready for them to sign, seal and send to the appropriate official. It cost them nothing more then a pleasant chat over the phone with me and the time it took them to review and mail the letter once received. Again, really.

For doing this I was paid quite well.

You may be asking if this is a conflict of interest and my answer is no.

The reason for that is I believe in our free market system and its ability to react to consumer demand assuming our government doesn't discourage it from doing so through endless and senseless legislation and one sided (or severely lopsided) support taken from tax payers pockets (otherwise known as subsidies). Much of what we did supported specific points that addressed getting gov't out of the pockets of business.

Why am I telling you this?

Assuming an even playing field, I believe consumer demand will move business into a more sustainable and environmentally friendly direction. It has been said many times before, but it is worth saying again that if we want something, we can vote with our pocket book. I believe this has never been truer or more important then it is at this time in our history.

But more then that, and the reason I told you what I did above is the saying the pen is mightier then the sword. Companies affected by the various legislation are well aware of this fact and they act accordingly by investing big money paying people to put pen to paper. Believe me, this is very effective or they wouldn't do it.

This same tool can be used in our favor too. You can do like I have done and send in those pre written form emails you see online or get in your in box and they may even help a little. But I am convinced it will only help a little. Or you can write an honest to goodness physical letter and make a real impact.

Now that you have decided to write this world changing letter, who are you going to send it to? Well that depends on the issue and where you live, but generally speaking it would go to your local representative. However I think you can do one better and send it directly to those that matter.

Now you are probably asking who could matter more then our elected leaders and I can understand that but remember I said I believe in our free market system and think we ought to keep Big G out of the way.

Instead of writing your representatives, try writing to the same companies you buy your products and services from. In fact, send a copy to your local news station while you are at it.

But here is the important part. You need to seek out the companies that are already doing the things you like and thank them for it. That's right, send them a simple "thank you" letter detailing what you like about the things they have done and make sure they realize the best way to ensure your future patronage is to continue making improvements in their business practices.

Can you imagine the difference it would make if we started acknowledging and encouraging the positive actions of these companies?

It is easy to forget there are real people in charge of these companies that can be influenced by praise for a job well done. And hey, if the letter you send them isn't enough, the local news running a story on consumer reaction to the positive actions they have taken is sure to get someones attention.

Just another way an average Joe (or Jane) can make a difference.

Photography by Nadya Smolskaya

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