Image credit: Nesster/Flickr
Jamming phone lines, fax machines or e-mail boxes with messages has been a key tactic ever since I first became an environmental activist. I remember one Senator telling me in 1994, before the internet existed as we know it today, before Facebook and Twitter and mass e-mails, that his staff was literally weighing the letters on a scale that we were sending from Sierra Club members to gauge the interest of his constituents. It was back during the fight to save the California Desert. All of those letters did their part, and we eventually passed the California Desert Protection Act, creating Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley National Park.
Organizations like MoveOn.org perfected this tactic in the wake of Clinton impeachment scandal and those of us who cared, started sending e-mails to our members of Congress and signing petitions that we hoped would do something.But over the last few years it's become something of a nasty little secret in the non-profit world that most petitions work more for getting members and donations than they do for achieving legislative goals. That's why I was thrilled by the Twitter chain you'll see below.
A Twitterer named @NoBagLunch has started a campaign to get the fast-food burrito restaurant Chipotle to start asking customers whether they want a paper bag with their lunch. You don't really need one, do you?
Chipotle already has a bit of a reputation for being a more sustainable fast-food option, with meats from Niman Ranch, a sustainable building program and recycled paperware. Anyway, @NoBagLunch was quickly picked up by @TreeHugger, and then I (@adamwerbach) retweeted it as well.
The conversation went something like this:
@TreeHugger: RT @NoBagLunch help me convince @chipotletweets that their associates should ASK before putting burritos in paper bags #green #sustainability
@adamwerbach: Yes. RT @TreeHugger RT @NoBagLunch help me convince @chipotletweets that their associates should ASK before putting burritos in paper bags
@chipotletweets: @adamwerbach We will pass the suggestion along, and we currently are using recycled paper bags. Cc: @TreeHugger @NoBagLunch -Bob
@chipotletweets: @TreeHugger The power of SM :-). Cc: @adamwerbach @NoBagLunch -Bob
@adamwerbach: @ChipotleTweets Cool -- let us know how it goes.
@ChipotleTweets: @adamwerbach Will do. -Bob
Within a few minutes we got a response from "Bob" (@ChipotleTweets) saying that he'd run the idea upstairs. I asked him to get back to us, and he promised he would. Within the period of a few minutes, a potential audience of over 50,000 people saw the call to action from @NoBagLunch.
Will it work? Maybe. Social media has executives enormously scared about the fact that their brand is in the hands of the likes of you. A company that reacts positively to a demand from the Twitterverse will get a great deal of good publicity. The important element is having a great idea that they can implement.
You can help by sending a tweet to @ChipotleTweets saying you think that stopping
the mandatory bag their bag usage is a pretty good idea. And hey, if it works, let's take this little TWITTERFORCE and see what else we can do.
UPDATE: Chipotle tweets that they have never had a mandatory bag policy. We have revised our headline to be more accurate.