The aim of this simple and yet effective method is to enable our participants to act as responsible costumers and consumers. We aim at empowering our participants as consumers and make them aware, that their opinion and decision counts.
Step 1: Divide the group into pairs. Each pair chooses an item they like and they want to know more about. Their task is to find an item and a question they want to ask to the producing company. For this task they have 10 minutes.
Step 2: As homework or in the evening of a training the participants shall send an email to the company, using (more or less) the text below and stating their critical but still productive question.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the Company (name of the company), we are participants in the training (name of the training) and we like your product. In the course of the training we asked ourselves, ... (here comes the critical question). We kindly ask you to answer until (in one week time). We will share your answer also with the other participants of the training/ the programme and we are grateful for your cooperation. With kind regards, (name and surname)
Possible Questions: Here are just a few example for possible questions, that could be asked. Depending on the item it can also be a completely different one. The question shall always be connected to a global component.
- How do you secure, that the working conditions of the people producing the item are safe?
- How much do the farmers earn? How do you ensure, that they make a proper living?
- Is the chocolate you use fair traded?
- How do you make sure, that the aluminium in your product is produced under proper working conditions?
- Where do you receive the tabacco for your cigarettes from and how can you ensure, that the farmers are getting paid according to national laws?
An important question in the debriefing of the method is about the feelings of the participants.
- How was it to approach a company?
- How did it feel to become a "critical thinker"?
- Can you imagine to do this more often? Why (not)?
The method was often used in workshops with pupils and students in the age between 13 and 25. The participants enjoyed doing it and they are also really quick. So far our experience is, that around half of the companies do answer, depending often on the size of the company. To be able to ask a critical question the participants need to work before the Email a bit about global interconnections. The World Game is a useful method as an introduction to global issues.
It is also interesting, if one of the groups asks a question to a shop in the city, to the local bakery, to the clothes shop around the corner, to their favorite Café.