I am socially inept. This is neither condemnation nor boast. You can confirm it with anyone who knows me. On most days, I am completely at peace with this fact, but there are times in which being an introvert is a major liability. I am not a good activist because I don’t fundamentally like talking to people. I am missing an intuitive understanding about how humans work. (Cats are different. I get cats.) As a consequence, most of my green efforts have been directed towards reducing the impact of my own existence. There will always be plenty to do in that department.
Unfortunately, I am not the problem, not really. Oh, I’m still plenty part of the problem; I have a car and a cat, a hobby that uses up indecent amounts of energy, and a serious internet/electricity dependency, but the problem is so much bigger than I am that it’s not enough just to change the things in my life. That was the easy part. Getting outside my own life is hard.
Case in point: a relative I don’t know well was in town for a business trip last week. I was there when he bought a case of disposable water bottles and non-organic bananas and put them into a plastic bag. There was so much I could have said about any of these things, but I couldn’t think of a single way to say anything that wasn’t rude, pushy, judgmental, or overbearing. I couldn’t offer my [girly] reusable bag, since I wasn’t going to see him again this trip. The environment wasn’t even a factor in his buying decisions, and distilling that entire consciousness into a minimally offensive, maximally thought-provoking comment just didn’t happen.
Yep. That could take some time. I haven’t figured out how to heckle distant relatives, so I’ve adopted an intermediate approach: heckling companies. Via email, of course. Whatever your position on who holds ultimate responsibility — consumers or corporations — I figure I’m hitting both bases by first refusing to buy unsustainable products, and then telling companies that I’m boycotting their products and why, and how they can fix it. If this is your speed, please join me!
One of the things I heckle about is palm oil. While some sources may be more or less sustainable, any company that doesn’t highlight its efforts to track down certified sustainable palm oil probably uses the cheap stuff that came at the cost of biodiversity and rainforest. (Phew! Nutella is safe.) Tonight I wrote the following note to Pillsbury, which has an all-natural refrigerator biscuit that I would totally buy on lazy I-need-hot-biscuits-NOW-days…except it contains palm oil.
“Hello! I really love the way your new Simply… line doesn’t have any artificial colors or flavors. However, I just noticed that palm oil was one of the ingredients. I am very concerned about the connection between palm oil and rainforest destruction. The increased global demand for palm oil has resulted in vast palm tree plantations that destroy crucial habitats for orangutans and many other rainforest species in Indonesia and Malaysia. Since learning about this connection, I have stopped buying products with palm oil unless the oil comes from certifiable sustainable sources.
Can you tell me about Pillsbury’s policy regarding palm oil, and if you have taken any steps towards finding sustainable sources or replacing the palm oil with other oils? I hope you will agree with me that any definition of wholesome ingredients should include the health of the planet as well as your customers!
Thank you for your time.
I hope a real person reads and responds to it. I hope other people are also upset that their biscuits destroy rainforests. And I hope other introverts will find that the internet is the perfect medium to start a career in environmental heckling. (But probably not.)
Do you already contact companies that sell unsustainable products? What are some other ways introverts can
strike fear into the hearts of major corporations make their voices heard?