Tag Archives: consumer power

Boycotts – Message in a Wallet

Boycotts have a long history of being a catalyst for social change.  Often as consumers, we forget that we have power to create change. The purchasing choices we make or avoid can encourage manufacturers and retailers to rethink design, packaging, toxicity, safety and environmental impact of products.

Retailers and manufacturers need to sell products. When we buy a product, we essentially are saying “yes’ to more of the product being manufactured. What if you don’t like what the company is doing? What if you are concerned about over-packaged products or that the product is not built to last (planned obsolescence) or it cannot be repaired. What actions can you do besides complaining to friends and family? What can you do that conveys your concerns to companies and create pressure for change?

Organized boycotts of products or companies can be the message that you and others send with your wallets to highlight your concerns.

Organizations like Greenpeace and PETA have successfully organized boycotts that have lead to changes. For years PETA and other animal rights organizations were highly concerned for the well-being of orcas used at Sea World. Under pressure from activists and declining sales, Sea World Entertainment Inc. announced that it will be ending its theatrical orca shows and the orca breeding program. In 2009, Kimberley- Clarke ( Kleenex, Cottonelle) released an environmental fibre policy that governs how it will conserve forests and support sustainable forestry and use more recycled fibre as a result of public pressure from five years of public campaigns by Greenpeace.

Boycotts can rapidly grow with social media interactions. Grab Your Wallet is a grassroots campaign directed at the Ivanka Trump brand, products and the stores carrying the products. #baycott is part of the Grab Your Wallet campaign targeted to Hudson Bay Company to drop Ivanka Trump products. The goal of the #grabyourwallet boycott is to “movitate companies to stop doing business with the Trump family.” When companies stop doing business with the Trumps consumers promise to return to company.

Boycotts are often used with other communication campaigns like letter writing campaigns or media protests.

Boycotts are marketplace democracy in action.

Any group or individual can call a boycott. Generally boycotts have greater success when there are a greater number of participants.

Ethical Consumer has a great guide on how to set up a boycott .

Looking over the successful campaigns like Grab Your Wallet or campaigns by PETA emphasizes the need for a clear goal and a target. For instance the goal may be to convince a supermarket to stop selling X Brand of bananas in shrink wrap.

Boycotts can work. Is it time to use them to drive for Zero Waste changes?

What product or company would be on your list to target?

Zero Waste Canada would like to hear your thoughts and ideas.

It is time we used our power as consumers wisely. We can send a message with our wallets.

Shopping and Waste

Women have consumer power. It is time to use it wisely.

Did you know that women control $20 trillion in annual spending in America and Fleishman-Hillard Inc. estimates that over the next decade women will control two-thirds of the consumer wealth in the U.S.  Women make the decision in the purchases of 94% of home furnishings, 92%of vacations, 91% of homes, 60% of automobiles, 51% of electronics purchases and make the majority of decisions of groceries and household products.

What we buy and how much stuff we buy is having a huge impact on the world.

Women are can make a difference. Women, as the dominant retail shoppers, need to realize that the choices being made impact the ability for our world to become a Zero Waste society. Self-awareness and change must be part of the increasing powers of the female consumer.

Here are some startling shopping and waste facts

The average woman owns 20 pairs of shoes but only wears 5 pairs regularly

77% of women use less than 10% of beauty products they purchase (the average woman spends more than $15,000 on make-up in her lifetime)

The average woman buys more than 52 items of new clothing a year. (The average Canadian disposes of 14kg of textile waste per year)

One in three bags of groceries purchased is wasted

Women outspend males $10.31 per trip to grocery store

Almost 13,000 chemicals are used in cosmetics (women put 168 chemicals in their bodies daily)

The average woman throws away 300lbs of “pads, plugs and applicators” in her life-time

Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup collected 20,000 tampon applicators out of 4 million total pieces of reclaimed plastic.

10 Things Women Can Do To Reduce Waste

  1. Avoid “retail therapy”: Try to find other activities to reduce stress or to create positive experiences. At very least just look.
  2. Use the buyerarchy for consumer decisions
  3. Make a shopping list for all household purchases and stick to the list.
  4. Plan meals so that you use food you have and are using leftovers.
  5. Avoid single-use disposable products: While they may seem convenient or time-saving single use disposable creates lots of waste. Lessen your impact by not using products like disposable razors, plastic straws, take-out disposable coffee cups, and convenience snack foods packaged in non-recyclable materials. Use alternatives to single-use.
  6. Stop trying to fill it up: Stop filling up your closet, your home and your shopping bag and the refrigerator with stuff. Think of minimizing first by changing shopping habits. Consider buying quality by quantity.
  7. Consider using less toxic, more eco-friendly hygiene products.
  8. Realize that beauty does come in a bottle. Reduce the amount of cosmetics purchased. Remember many cosmetics have toxin issues plus most of the packaging is not recyclable. Use products that are refillable or have packaging recycling programs, or make your own.
  9. Give love not stuff. Think about what you can give other than more stuff.
  10. Slow down and get organized: Sometimes our hectic lives create bad habits and waste. Take some time to create management systems that create efficiency and promoted waste reduction. Create systems that organize the refrigerator and cupboards, create compost and recycling opportunities in the kitchen, bathroom, home office and garden and enlist other family members to help.

Women have the power to create change by becoming conscious consumers.


“Women have an essential role to play in the development of sustainable and ecologically sound consumption and production patterns and approaches to natural resource management.”

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development