How many times have you opened a bag of takeout food or unboxed a product you ordered online and gotten upset by the containers or packaging used? This frustration can quickly lead to feelings of anger, sadness, and even climate anxiety. What if there were an easy way to provide instant sustainability feedback to the business, a way to encourage the business to make a change but also a way to thank the business for sustainable practices? The free Remark app helps you do just that.
Jessica Lybeck, CEO of Remark, an app designed to help consumers encourage sustainable business practices, believes in the power of consumer feedback. “Yes, you can vote with your dollars, but the problem with that is then companies don’t know how you feel and why you took your business elsewhere. It’s very important to make your voice heard.” When businesses have more data in the form of customer feedback, they can then make better decisions about sustainability.
Developing an Easy Way to Reach Businesses
After her own experience of feeling defeated by all the single-use plastics in use, Lybeck contemplated what she could do about it. She found inspiration from the book Zero Waste Home, which recommends that consumers give direct input to businesses about environmental issues. So, she started reaching out to business owners to suggest ways they could make greener choices. When she received positive responses, she started brainstorming about a way for this type of sustainable feedback to be more widespread and automated.
In 2021, Lybeck and her two business partners launched the Remark app. They established it as a public benefit corporation, which is a type of corporation created to generate social and public good and to operate in a responsible and sustainable manner. The company has plans to certify as a B Corp.
Since its launch, app users have sent over 5,000 emails to more than 4,000 businesses. A quarter of the businesses have responded, including executives from major corporations like Albertson’s, Starbucks Coffee, Costco Wholesale, McCormick, Chipotle, and Walmart.
How the Remark App Works
The Remark app is free and simple to use. It also allows you to share your feedback anonymously and safely, without having to speak directly to business owners. Here’s how it works:
- Download the app, which is available in Apple’s App Store and on Google Play.
- Search for a business, including restaurants, cafes, bars, retail stores, grocery stores, and even specific brands. Any local, online, or product-based business registered with Google is searchable in Remark’s database.
- Select the type of feedback you want to send from an easy-to-use checklist. You can indicate what the business got right and where there is room for improvement. Just click either a happy face or sad face next to items, such as takeout containers, cutlery, straws, vegetarian and vegan food options, and more. This takes no more than a few seconds to complete.
- Choose how important this issue is to you. This helps determine the tone of the email.
- The app then automatically generates an email based on your checklist choices. It clearly expresses both positive and negative feedback in a friendly, constructive way.
- Once you approve with a click of a button, the app sends the email to the business decision maker using only your first name and last initial.
- Review responses and track your impact to see whether the business makes a change based on your feedback. You will receive a notification when the business reads and responds to your email.
- Keep the conversation going by replying to businesses. Thank them for taking the time to respond, especially if they agree to make a change.
Impact So Far
It’s clear that growing number of consumers want businesses like restaurants to prioritize sustainability. According to The National Restaurant Association’s 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report, sustainable, reusable, and recyclable packaging ranked first among the top 10 food and menu trends. The survey also found that 70% of millennials and 72% of Gen Z adults said they would be willing to pay extra for to-go orders to cover the cost of upgraded packaging.
The Remark App can help move this progress along as more consumers express their concerns directly to businesses. There are already many success stories from the app: Sam’s Club inviting an app user to meet with leadership about sustainability; Driscoll’s sharing its corporate sustainability plan with a user — including its commitment to move away from plastic berry containers; restaurant chains changing from disposable to reusable cutlery; and a bistro agreeing to add a vegan option to the menu.
“True success is shifting the hearts and minds of corporations,” explained Lybeck. “Each email opened and delivered is success to us. We believe that more businesses will meet demand. Our goal is to inundate business leaders so they have no choice but to act.”
You can learn more about the Remark app at remark.eco.