In an excellent model of online activism, Adbusters magazine and Greenpeace Australia have taken on globe-straddling Coca-Cola over its environmental record — and won. The two groups jointly created COKESPOTLIGHT.ORG, a web site detailing Coca-Cola’s history as one of the world’s worst hydrofluorocarbon (a greenhouse gas) polluters. So many visitors to the site downloaded the “campaign toolkit,” distributed banners and stickers, and called, faxed, mailed or e-mailed Coke’s headquarters to complain, that the multinational company eventually committed to abandon its polluting ways.
Coke has traditionally used refrigeration units and vending machines which emit HFCs, and had planned to do the same at this summer’s Games in Sydney. But Greenpeace has been working with Olympics organizers to make the 2000 Sydney Games the first ever “Green Games,” complete with a ban on all HFC-emitting coolers.
Coke officials eventually met with Greenpeace representatives and introduced a new policy to ween itself off HFC, CFC, and HCFC technologies by the Athens Games in 2004. Said Australia Greenpeace Olympics campaigner Rupert Posner, “Today’s policy change shows that big industry can be made to abandon dirty practices when environmental groups raise the alarm.”