There are several effective ways that individuals can encourage businesses to move towards more sustainable packaging options. One of the most impactful approaches is for consumers to directly contact companies and express their preferences and concerns over packaging choices.
Individuals can call or write emails and letters to customer service departments, marketing teams, and CEO offices at major retailers and consumer goods companies. The message should focus on how certain types of non-recyclable or hard-to-recycle packaging is problematic from an environmental perspective. Request that the business commits to transitioning away from problematic materials like single-use plastics to more eco-friendly alternatives. Offering suggestions on preferred sustainable materials like recycled content, recyclable/compostable options can help guide companies towards solutions.
It’s also effective to specifically mention packaging on products you regularly purchase from that company. Express that you appreciate other brands that use sustainable packaging and that you would purchase more from companies that make the switch. Highlight how improved packaging aligns with your personal values as a consumer. Larger companies take consumer preferences seriously, so clear communication of sustainable packaging priorities can impact purchasing and product design decisions over the long run.
In addition to direct outreach, individuals have influence through online reviews and social media engagement. Leaving reviews on company websites, Facebook pages, or other digital forums about packaging concerns lets others know your stance and puts indirect pressure on businesses. You can share compliments for brands you feel are leading in this space. On Twitter and other platforms, tagging companies in posts about their packaging choices empowers more people to participate in the discussion. Reviews and social sharing that goes viral can significantly shape corporate decisions.
Emailing and tagging elected officials and regulatory agencies like the EPA about the need for laws and policies supporting sustainable packaging alternatives is another approach. Outlining how various materials burden taxpayers through waste management programs builds the case for reforms. Individual influence accumulates when many citizens advocate the same policy priorities related to reducing toxic and hard-to-handle waste. Regulatory bodies may then opt to place restrictions, incentives or bans that shift business practices on a systemic level.
Signing petitions for sustainable packaging standards or joining advocacy organizations working on these issues lends further strength in numbers. Petitions demonstrate the scale of public interest, while active groups maintain ongoing dialogue with companies, monitor commitments, and spotlight leaders and laggards. Their collective voice and research expertise compliments what individuals communicate directly to businesses.
Consumers should also vote with their dollars by patronizing brands that use recycled, recyclable, or compostable options whenever possible. Spending habits that reward more eco-friendly packaging sends a strong market signal for companies to follow suit or risk losing sales. Individual purchasing power, even in small amounts per person, compels businesses over the long run if enough customers prioritize sustainability in shopping decisions.
Word-of-mouth promotion for certain brands and packaging serves as “unpaid advertising” that multiplies an individual’s impact. Mentions to family, friends and on social media spreads awareness of options for greener shopping, putting additional gentle pressure on competitors to change. Leading with questions and suggestions versus accusations establishes a constructive dialogue around the issue. With patience and consistency, individuals have viable means to encourage meaningful shifts in corporate practices over time through informed participation.
Direct communication with retailers, reviews, petitions, advocacy, policy support and purchasing power give individuals multiple avenues to positively steer businesses towards more sustainable packaging options at scale. While corporate change may happen gradually, consistent messages from consumers focused on preferred solutions can and do motivate improved environmental leadership when many voices unite behind shared priorities for reducing waste and toxins from unnecessary materials. With strategic, solution-oriented engagement, individuals have real potential to make a difference.