In a recent interview with the Harvard Business Review, Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz said “if 3% of the marketplace was actually punishing or rewarding a company, it would send massive shock waves through any sector.”

“Profit margins are often smaller than this,” he followed up with.

What’s more, that 3% is an ultra conservative figure. In fact Dr. Leiserowitz said twice-yearly national surveys by Yale University and George Mason University suggest that nearly 50% of Americans are willing to punish and reward companies for their actions – or lack thereof – regarding climate change. Dr. Leiserowitz, Senior Research Scientist and Director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, arrived at 3% by halving 50% four times, just for the sake of argument.

So if half of the country is willing to send a message to bad corporate climate actors with boycotts and buycotts, what’s stopping them? Shouldn’t our actions have created an entirely green marketplace by now?

According to Dr. Leiserowitz, the greatest barrier preventing consumer activism isn’t cost, quality or convenience. It’s knowledge.

The primary barrier preventing even higher rates of consumer activism by this segment is knowledge: 79 percent of the Alarmed say they don’t know which companies to punish, while 22 percent say they can’t afford to do so.

– “Global Warming’s Six Americas 2009: An Audience Segmentation Analysis,” Yale University and George Mason University

What does that 3% figure tell us?

  • You are not alone: According to “Climate Change in the American Mind: November 2019,” 72% of Americans think global warming is happening. As mentioned above, nearly 50% of the country is willing to punish bad corporate climate actors by opting for Earth-friendly ones. That’s a consumer-army of nearly 160 million Americans that are willing to fight, but are having trouble figuring out how. You are not alone in wanting to effect change through consumerism, or finding it difficult to do so.
  • Consumer activism is worthwhile: While the Yale/George Mason found nearly 50% of the country is willing to participate in consumer activism, Leiserowitz suggest that even 3% of the consumer base following through could send “massive shock waves through any sector.” In other words, willing consumer activists have far surpassed critical mass. This is no longer about changing minds or waiting around to make sure enough people are on board. It’s now a matter of identifying actions and following through.
  • Don’t wait around for a boycott: Practice everyday consumer activism by researching companies and products on your own and deciding if they meet your standards. Find out which companies deserve punishment or reward, and do so with your money. Let climate-consciousness drive your consumer decisions. Know that 72% of the country shares your concerns, and that it only takes 3% to move the needle. And when a boycott opportunity presents itself, hop on board!

Identifying climate-friendly businesses

At Emeraldology, our mission is to make Earth-friendly living as easy as possible. Achieving that mission includes identifying Earth-friendly businesses and products. Check out the following articles:

And please, suggest more! We are happy to investigate businesses and products that interest you!

Feature photo by Gyorgy Bakos on Unsplash.