Walking a Political Tightrope: Environmental Activism in a Partisan Age


This morning, we had the opportunity to join a discussion as part of the Steering Committee for the Colorado Outdoor Business Alliance wherein we talked through how COBA should engage with – and attempt to influence – members of Congress to take action to help protect our environment. With climate change becoming an ever-increasingly partisan issue (though, I argued, it is more of a life issue, but I digress), how do businesses – particularly ones located in areas with congresspeople currently not bought in to the science around climate change – engage in this discussion in ways that don’t alienate their customer base?

Patagonia is currently leading the field in its stance on this issue and has made bold moves to take a strong stance on environmental policy and calling out those who oppose their position. But most of us aren’t Patagonia. So how does a smaller business navigate this space?

At Relish, we certainly have not been silent when it comes to our position on environmental stewardship, supporting proactive and progressive environmental policies, and calling out members of Congress who are actively driving policies that run contrary to scientific thinking on this matter. We believe that all of us have the responsibility to speak up and influence those who represent us to take bold action when it comes to climate change. We do not see this as a partisan issue and will continue to rally for policies that promote a cleaner, healthier environment – regardless who is in office. We take the approach of leading through authenticity and sticking to the issue rather than endorsing specific candidates. We also recognize that the more outspoken leaders are out there taking similar stands, the easier it is for others to join the movement and the more mainstream it all becomes.

Taking a stand can be scary. Particularly when one’s market is still not sure about which side of the issue they land. However, leadership can reap rewards. Recent studies show that around 66% of consumers want brands to take a stand on social, and even political, issues. Of these “believe-driven buyers”, in fact, over 67% made purchases influenced by these positions and 65% claimed they wouldn’t purchase a brand if it stayed silent (source).

Still not ready to take the plunge and get vocal with your brand? There are many other ways one can green up one’s business. Let us know what you are planning for your business and let us know if we can help.