Thursday, April 1, 2010

Social Action Driving Businesses to Adopt Sustainable Practices

Some businesses have seen the wisdom of going green ahead of public pressure, others are being cajoled out of their complacency by an increasingly concerned public. The following account is a cautionary tale for businesses that ignore responsible practices.

Greenpeace is one of the prominent groups that uses sustainability scorecards to assesses businesses. In one of these scorecards Greenpeace singled out seafood supermarket chain Trader Joe's. For months Greenpeace publicly pressured Trader Joe's to adopt sustainable seafood purchasing policies.

Trader Joe's was subject to an online campaign including Greenpeace’s mock website. Pressure also took the form of phone calls, in-store demonstrations and questions to store managers from activists and shoppers across the country.

As a consequence of relentless pressure from Greenpeace activists, Trader Joe's agreed to adopt sustainable practices. Trader Joe's removed red-listed seafood and the store committed itself to working with third-party, science-based organizations to establish responsible practices and strong, lasting guidelines for ocean protection throughout their entire seafood operation.

One of the most significant aspects of this deal is Trader Joe's agreement to use their buying power to leverage change in their supply chains and throughout the seafood industry.

The capitulation of Trader Joe's proves that social action is a powerful force that can push even national chains to adopt sustainable practices. It also demonstrates that the public is increasingly coalescing around well coordinated campaigns that target irresponsible businesses.

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