In 1990, British environmental groups threw in their lots with their erstwhile enemies - retailers and furniture makers who rank as the biggest buyers of tropical hardwoods and other forest products - forming the first national buyers group and a model of business-environmental group cooperation later copied in the Netherlands, Austria and Belgium. In 1997, the concept was to score its biggest conquest, with the launching of a US buyers group. A German buyers group was expected to follow soon after. Others in countries from Canada to Japan were under discussion. After years of sporadic consumer boycotts and public protests that had little lasting impact, the buyers had, in effect, corporatized the struggle, and there were efforts to extend the model to other issues such as fisheries protection. For retailers who go along with the alliance, it offered the increasingly important blessing of environmentalists that they were doing all they can.
In many countries customers can now choose their electricity supplier, selecting electricity generated either from polluting fossil fuel and nuclear plants or from cleaner, environmentally preferable, or "green" sources. Buying green electricity is a simple and effective way for people to make an immediate environmental difference and help build a sustainable future.