It’s important that we vote with our dollars when we can, but the message only goes one way, the signal is limited and unclear, and it costs money. Fortunately, we can also talk to companies directly.
For example, I recently cancelled my web hosting subscription* via live chat, and I used the opportunity to talk about green hosting & renewable energy. (A condensed transcript of the chat is below.) The customer service rep couldn’t do anything about their energy supply, but my concern is now in the system 🎉
If I had canceled without mentioning sustainability, the company would have no idea that their lack of action is costing them money. They would have no incentive to be more sustainable.
You could argue that my one customer service chat doesn’t matter to a large company. But large companies are made up of people — there will be people who care about the climate working there. And they are looking for data to make the business case for change. And you’re right, one chat is probably not enough. But this is where you can help — you can also be supporting data for sustainable initiatives!
Here are some opportunities for telling companies to be more sustainable:
- Any time you have to contact customer service, indicate that you are making purchasing choices based on sustainability.
- Every time you find yourself wishing that your favorite product were more eco-friendly, let the company know. Post an Instagram story or tweet.
- When you’re doing shopping research & trying to understand a product/service’s environmental impact — go ahead and send a tweet or email to customer service! If the company is serious about sustainability, they’ll be able to answer your question. While you’re at it, download the company’s sustainability report. You’ll brighten a sustainability manager’s day 🙂
- While you’re waiting for your items to be rung up, talk to the cashier about plastic bags or whatever green marketing is hanging around. If you’re skeptical, ask questions. If you’re supportive, show support. If no one says anything, companies will think that people don’t care, and continue doing business-as-usual.
- When you’re cleaning out your email spam/snail mail, fill out some feedback forms and surveys. Any time there is an empty text box — this is your chance to share your climate anxiety!
- Whenever your computer crashes and you see the incident report popup. Just fill out that ‘additional info’ text box & ask, “Are you using renewable energy because we have < 10 years left thanks.”
Have fun with it! Let me know how it goes in the comments below.
*If you’re looking for green web hosting check out the Green Web Foundation’s directory. If you’re happy with your host & want to reduce the carbon emissions of your website, check out ClimateAction.tech’s guide.
Below is a condensed version of the hosting cancellation chat:
Agent: Welcome to Chat Support. I ’m sorry to know that you wish to cancel your account. May I know the reason for cancelling the account?
Melissa: [List of technical problems.] Also, I want to switch to a green host.
Agent: Thank you for letting me know the reason. I would like to offer my assistance to sort out any problems that you are experiencing.
Melissa: No, I’ve talked to tech support before. [More technical grievances.] Also, there are other hosts that use renewable energy, so I want to switch to a more sustainable host.
Agent: So do you wish to start build the website from scratch?
Melissa: Yes, but with an eco-friendly host.
Agent: I will definitely assist with your request.