Yes, I can call myself an activist. I march on the streets doing protest, I am living in a way to be an example and I am outspoken about what should change in this world and how. I think that if you want to make the world a better place, you’re an activist already. But not everybody shares that kind of view. Most people think you have to be on the streets protesting everyday to be an activist. I don’t think that’s true and I don’t think we have too either. That’s why I am talking about an accessible type of activism today. I call this: e-mail activism.
All Activism is Important
If you’d ask me, I’d say there is not right or wrong way of being an activist (as long as it’s violence free of course). Different people do it in different ways and that’s all good. Whether you have a platform with thousands of people watching or if you’re just trying to inform friends and family about certain matters, it doesn’t matter. Every win is a win and we should always remember that. Visible activism like marching on the streets seems brave and all that, but it’s not all there is and also, not everybody is able to do this. So bear in mind, there’s more forms of activism than you think. And they’re all important.
Not Getting to the Right Person
Since I am able to do all kinds of activism, I do most of them. But over the years I have changed my strategy a bit when it comes to companies. In the beginning of this eco-positive lifestyle I used to speak to the wrong type of people. Let me give you an example. Since straws are a useless single-use item and I personally don’t need them, I refused them when I could. I would talk to the waiter of a restaurant about it. That would sometimes work for me personally, but it didn’t create a bigger effect. That’s because the waiter would never tell their supervisor when people refuse straws. And so, no signal was ever sent to the owner of manager of the restaurant about my wish to reduce their waste. I realized that and then I came up with a new strategy: e-mail activism.
Instead of only talking to a person on the operational level, a waiter for example, I now send an e-mail to the company so that it reaches the right person. Complaining to a waiter about an inaccessible bathroom or single-use straws is often useless. That’s because they’re not the people making the decisions. So right now, when something in a store or a café is not right, I just make a note in my phone and send them an e-mail about it later. I will only talk to the waiter about it in person if it’s really necessary, with straws for example. I could also ask for the manager every time I go out to dinner or for a drink, but that ruins my own experience and they don’t always have time for this.
Examples of E-Mail Activism
This type of activism is so easy and if you want to be anonymous you can even choose to make a separate e-mail address for this. Here are some example of e-mail activism: asking owners to use reusable straws, asking for a changing table in the men’s bathroom (it’s usually only in the women’s bathroom), asking for a gender-neutral bathroom, asking for one vegan option on the menu, asking for an accessible entrance (it’s mind-blowing how often they’re too high so that people who use a wheelchair can’t come in), asking for tap water on the menu for a reasonable price, asking for an accessible bathroom, asking for reusable napkins, asking for an allergy list on the menu, asking for more inclusive sizes in a clothing store, asking why they only employ white people, asking for braille on the menu, asking for information to be put on their website about the size and width of the chairs, asking why they only employ men, asking for a gluten-free option the menu, asking for an elevator, asking for an English translation on the menu, etc.
Pick Your Battles
With this list I should say: whenever I send an e-mail I only ask for one thing. If I send them the entire list of things that’s not doable. I even send this to companies I don’t support, like H&M or MacDonalds. I usually don’t buy anything there, but I do want to move them into the right direction. If MacDonalds adds a vegan option on the menu or H&M introduces more inclusive sizing, that’s a small win, even if the core of the company sucks (H&M doesn’t pay their people a living wage and MacDonalds kills animals, both hurt the environment too). Small steps are steps too. If we all send one e-mail a month, companies will notice. We have to ask them to change if we want them to change. And by asking for concrete actions, we make heard what we want.
Do you practice e-mail activism?