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How Green Americans
Create Tipping Points
Green America focuses our campaigns on hitting irresponsible companies from multiple angles. The goal is to engineer a market tipping point in favor of social and environmental responsibility, and tip the company toward green.
Here are three examples:
1. Raise the Bar, Hershey
The campaign: Get Hershey to eliminate child labor from its supply chain through Fair Trade certification.
Individuals: For months, we got tens of thousands of potential customers to bombard Hershey with e-mails, phone calls, petitions, student letters, and Facebook messages, demanding that it cut its ties to child labor.
Media: We staged several protests in front of Hershey headquarters, drawing considerable media attention.
Shareholders: Hershey owns a majority of its own stock, making it difficult to pressure the company through this avenue. Elizabeth O’Connell spoke to company management about the effect of its ties to child labor on its bottom line at the company’s annual meeting last year.
Businesses: We worked with our Green Business Network to get over 40 food co-ops to pledge not to carry Hershey products. Then we asked Whole Foods to follow suit. When it refused, we followed up with thousands of emails to Whole Foods managers from our individual members. After eight days, Whole Foods pulled Hershey’s Scharffen Berger line from its shelves.
Results: With a week of Whole Foods’ announcement, Hershey buckled and agreed to certify 100% of its cocoa by the year 2020.
2. Break Up With Your Mega-Bank
The campaign: Demand that mega-banks like Citi and Bank of America halt predatory lending practices, while encouraging people to open accounts with fair, green banks that lift up low-income communities with their lending.
Individuals: Individual Green Americans are the driving force behind this campaign—the first in the nation of its kind—as they break up with their mega-banks and help their friends, family, and organizations do so.
Shareholders: Green America publicized 2013 shareholder proposals at Bank of America and Wells Fargo, which called for a review of home mortgage polices at these institutions in light of their history of abusive practices. Both resolutions garnered significant shareholder support.
Results: Green America and allies have helped over 15 million people nationwide switch to community banks and credit unions. Research from US SIF shows that assets held by community investment institutions have grown from $7.6 billion in 2001 to $61.4 billion in 2012. Individual account holders are a big part of that growth.
3. Clean Energy Victory Bonds
The campaign: Encourage Congress to pass legislation creating Clean Energy Victory Bonds, special Treasury bonds that would allow people to invest in green energy and energy efficiency solutions for as little as $25.
Policy leaders: Fran Teplitz, Green America’s policy director, is working directly with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to get the Clean Energy Victory Bond Act written and to drum up support for the bill.
Individuals: Individual members have pledged to buy the bonds at
cleanenergyvictorybonds.org, called and written to their members of Congress, and educated their friends about the campaign.
Businesses: We’ve harnessed the energy of our 3,500 Green Business Network members behind CEVBs, as well—which Green America policy director Fran Teplitz says is vital. “Many Republican representatives expect business voices to be in lock-step with the destructive policies of the US Chamber of Commerce,” she says. “It can be an eye opener for them to hear the business case for environmental responsibility.”
We’re also working with state legislators across the country who are modeling state legislation after the Clean Energy Victory Bond Act.