Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Day Sixty-Eight - YOP!

Speak Up and Tell Manufacturers What You Want

I am a firm believer that one of the best ways to elicit corporate change is to use your purchasing power. For example, when you buy something organic, you are sending a message to that manufacturer that you are willing to pay a little more for a greener, chemical-free product. That, in turn, provides incentive for the green manufacturer to continue his organic efforts, and induces other companies to join the green movement. This "Dollar Voting" is a great way to let manufacturers know what you think of their products.

All that being said, sometimes the easiest way to let manufacturers know how you feel is to tell them. Surprisingly enough, they listen!

Customer service experts know that for every complaint or comment they receive, there are hundreds or perhaps thousands of other consumers who share a similar view. They pay very close attention to the comments and concerns they receive via email, mail and their toll-free consumer hotlines. The information is gathered, tabulated and sent in weekly reports to various members of the organization -- to be used in modifying and improving the product and its packaging.

This week I have contacted both Skippy and Yoplait to let them know my concerns about their packaging. Here's what happened:

Skippy's new natural smooth peanut butter is a great product, but it appears to only be offered in a 12 oz package at Krogers. This violates my vow to Buy in Bulk. Fortunately, the great customer service rep I spoke with told me that I could find larger packages at my local Costco AND offered to send me two coupons for FREE jars of peanut butter. uh, SCORE!

Yoplait has some super yummy yogurt, but like most other yogurts, the containers are made of #5 Polypropylene, which is not widely recyclable. The lids, however, are made of an aluminum foil coated in plastic, that is recyclable in some areas -- but not mine. I was disappointed on both counts, since I try to faithfully recycle everything that can be recycled in my area. However, the fabulous customer service rep gladly took my comment requesting that new packaging be considered that utilizes the more universally recyclable #1 or #2 plastics. She also asked if I would be willing to be part of a consumer focus group that provides feedback to Yoplait about its products. I gladly accepted the invitation and look forward to sharing my views with them.


Every time we let our voice be heard, we are one step closer to a greener environment. In our consumer-driven economy, we have great power to influence how heavily the corporate giants tread on our earth. And who knows? They may be waiting until they receive 50,000 complaints before they feel it is economically advantageous to change their packaging. So be like small JoJo in Dr. Suess' Horton Hears a Who and let out a small "YOP". That small "yop" might put it over.

Difficulty Level: 2 out of 5

Yeah, it's not fun spending your precious time waiting on hold for "the next available customer service representative" and hearing that "your call is important to us", but really, what is 5 minutes of your time? Besides, it's nice to bitch to someone about something and have them be paid to sound like they care. It's like free therapy.


leslie said...

Hello, Just came by via It Must Be The Vapors, and I must say, from what I have read of your blog, I am very impressed with what you are doing.
Here's a real easy one...put a brick, or similar water displacement device in the toilet tank to 'retrofit' an older toilet to low water usage.
Keep doing what you're doing. I appreciate it.

Burbanmom said...


Thanks so much for the kind words and cool suggestion. Back in the 80's, my dad filled a pepsi bottle with water and put it in the tank. Of course, I was a teenager then and just thought he was wierd, but he was actually just very earth-conscious. Maybe it's genetic... ;-)