David Mielach, 2016
If you think the little guy can’t make a difference, you may want to think again. The past year proved numerous times that regular people can bring about major changes, just by gathering signatures.
Change.org, the world’s largest petition platform, says that its users started 300,000 petitions in 2012, and several of those have led to significant changes within organizations. The website says the biggest of those changes took place at the following companies:
- Rental car industry stops fighting vehicle safety- Callie Houck’s two daughters died in a car crash in 2004. The reason? Enterprise had given them a rental car that was under recall for safety defects. Due to a federal loophole, what Enterprise did wasn’t illegal. And for the past 8 years, the company continued handing out recalled cars to customers and blocking legislation intended to stop the practice. Then, early this year, Callie launched a Change.org petition asking Enterprise to stop blocking the legislation. After months of resisting, Enterprise finally agreed to call off its opposition in October, marking a major shift in the rental car industry.
- Beef industry ditches pink slime– For years, so-called “pink slime,” officially known as “lean finely textured beef,” has been used to bulk up U.S. beef products under the radar. But no longer. When Texas mom Bettina Siegel started her Change.org petition asking the USDA to stop using pink slime in school food, she didn’t even expect to get a thousand signatures. Nine days and 258,874 signatures later, the USDA agreed to offer schools a pink slime-free option, a decision with lasting ramifications for the beef industry. In particular, Beef Products, Inc., the leading U.S. producer of pink slime, claimed the media furor around Bettina’s petition caused it to close three of its four plants and lay off 650 people.
- Cell phone companies take on domestic violence- When Cynthia Butterworth’s sister escaped from her abusive husband, she needed to cancel their shared cell phone contract so he couldn’t track her phone calls. But when she called Verizon, they said it would cost $500 to end her contract – money she simply didn’t have. Finally, after a massive Change.org petition, Cynthia got Verizon to change its policies so domestic abuse victims like Cynthia’s sister could easily cancel their contracts. Then word spread, and another domestic abuse victim, “Jane Doe,” launched her own Change.org petition, asking Sprint to follow suit. And just last month, Sprint agreed to waive its $200 cancellation fee in cases of domestic violence victims.
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