When Numbers Matter. Petitions and Their Impact

One of the big complaints of environmentalists has been the general apathy and ignorance of people, when it comes to vital issues . But a look at some petitions on Change.org, a petitions website, shows that enough support exists. It just needs direction and perseverance

For those hoping to prevent the widespread devastation and ‘sacrifices’ our environment makes for the sake of ‘development’, and worse, the greed of a few interested parties, starting petitions might seem like a futile task.  That is one reason why petitions on Change.org, a petitions site, get a mixed response, when we spoke to people. Most people questioned the futility of it all, wondering if these petitions actually matter. However, common sense dictates that supporting a petition that is close to your beliefs is still better than doing nothing. A petition can create real evidence of the support a cause has, in many cases, embolden petitioners enough to actually take it to, and present it to a decision maker. For us, it was quite surprising to see the interest specific petitions in the environment domain had generated, pointing to the widespread angst and interest that is there for preserving and making things better, if everyone would only listen.

One of the most sensible ones going around right now is a petition by Namita Sood asking for a 5 State Policy to Tackle Air Pollution a part of party manifestos . It’s a common sense demand, and unfortunate that it needs a petition to be highlighted. But everyone will accet that tackling the air pollution in North India especially need broader coordination and support.   This petition is already at 99,000 signatures.

Another petition we saw was a demand to Commit to Cleaning Up Ghazipur Landfill Mess , started by Parul Mathur and Seema Mishra. The petition is at close to its target of 10,000 signatures.

In terms of impact, directly or indirectly, impact is possible.  A petition by Vivek Kamboj to protect the Aravallis met with significant success, with 109,000 signatures.  It sought to restore the status of 52 acres of the mountain range that had been cleared to make way for a real estate project .  The fight, especially for the Aravallis continues, but small victories like the one Vivek helped achieve give everyone hope that it is not impossible.

A petition to Britannia to stop using plastic trays inside their packaging by Pracheta B has collected almost 57,000 signatures till date. On hopes that at some stage, the firm will take action too listen and find a solution too. We really wish the best for this one, as a significant move by Britannia, the country’s largest seller of packaged cookies and cakes could go a long way in attacking, and building awareness about the plastics menace.

At a much smaller level,  Bidisha Saikia made a difference, with her petition to build a bridge across a river in Assam where school children were using aluminium pots to get across. The local MLA finally took notice at 5000 signatures, and work started to build a bridge. a temporary boat service was also started to make life safer  for the children.

So as you can see, one can make a difference, if the will is there. While petitions are hardly the only, or the best way, we believe that the idea of using these to quietely build support for a cause that matters to you is a must have in the armoury of a climate warrior too. If you can’t do it yourself, support the few who are, to keep them going.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna Singh

Prasanna Singh is the founder at IamRenew

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