Tired of Watching the Climate Change from the Sidelines?

By Reed Shapiro

Last week, a consumer who was trying to decide whether or not to buy their dogs’ food from Only Natural Pet (which sells over 40 carbon-neutral products through our Carbon Neutral Checkout®) called Carbon Credit Capital (CCC)’s mainline to gather more information about the validity and thoroughness of Only Natural Pet’s carbon neutrality claims.

CCC has published a number of articles over the years detailing how consumer preference, and willingness to pay, for carbon neutrality as a specific product attribute have increased. Here, however, was the first instance where we were able to see into the minds of customers as they were making their decisions.

That a person called a company they were considering buying a product from, and that they also contacted the partner of that company to do further diligence is significant. Why? That call is significant because it shows climate-related impacts are just as concerning to today’s consumers as are the more well-known impacts like cost, bodily health, and social perception.

This represents a major tipping point in how climate action is viewed publicly. Just a few years ago, corporate carbon reporting and/or action were sticky subjects that companies felt would divide or aggravate part of their consumer base. Now it seems companies will get burned for not making bold public claims. It even seems companies may bet passed-on by consumers for not doing enough, even if they are taking some environmental action.

While companies and the business case for taking action to reduce emissions are typically the lens through which I write these articles, and while I could praise firms like Nike, Microsoft, Allbirds, Lyft, and Delta for their action, this one is more for consumers. Where it often seems as though we as individuals are small fish when compared to governments and multinational companies, it’s become clear those entities are now listening to customer feedback more than ever.

Even in struggling industries (like travel and events) companies are doubling down to make new commitments, and efforts towards reducing their negative externalities. They do this because they know the public is watching how they evolve after lockdowns to keep their stakeholders safe. Companies know that not showing up for their workforce, or their consumers when it comes to racial justice, safe work environments and safe stores, and a commitment to operate within our natural resource limits will not bode well for their futures.

We are at a time in the world where the consumer has more power than ever. The curtains are being drawn back, and people want to see real work and good answers to even the most difficult questions. The caller I spoke with last week gave direct feedback on how to make Only Natural Pet’s brand more attractive to people like him by going into deeper detail to highlight the full extent of the rigor and positive impact they’re achieving. That feedback has made its way to the product and marketing teams as a result of our discussion—and there will ultimately be a change in the way information is presented as a result!

Just one person was able to use a phone, have a conversation, and move the dial in the real world.

We are all capable of this, and it doesn’t always have to be so involved—but know this: brands have perked up their ears, and your input counts more than ever. While companies often used to sweep feedback under the rug, it’s now a driving input that effects how companies develop new policies, products, services and general operational protocols.

I’ve written in the past that individuals can make a difference by purchasing offsets, but this is a bigger issue. Consumers are doing increasingly rigorous research on the companies they buy things from. That research should be followed up with answers. If companies don’t present what you’re looking for—contact them! See if they can answer your burning questions. If they can’t, or won’t, that may indicate they’re not someone you want to be purchasing from. Use those companies that do satisfy your burning questions as benchmarks for what to expect from a good company moving forward.

Do not see yourself as powerless in the face of these global problems affecting us all. Use your voice and go make the change you want to see in the world—it has become easier than you think!