Change.org
Change.org
  • A South African petition calling for a countrywide ban on single-use plastic bags has clocked up more than 100,000 signatures.
  • That's a number big enough for David Barre, Managing Director of Communications at Change.org, to say South Africans should take the campaign seriously. 
  • Signatures on the Change.org platform suggest South Africans are deeply concerned about the environment – and about Fortnite. 
  • For more stories, go to www.businessinsider.co.za.

A South African petition calling for a countrywide ban on single-use plastic bags has clocked up more than 100,000 signatures on one of the world’s largest social change websites, Change.org.

That is a significant number for a country the size of South Africa, David Barre, managing director of communications at Change.org, told Business Insider South Africa – but not a record. 

“The signature count for this petition is definitely on the high end. That said, there are petitions focused on South Africa that gathered more signatures,” said Barre in response to questions.

The website sees about 25,000 campaigns posted every month from 196 countries. Anyone can sign up and create a petition. Other users can then vote. Once the number of votes exceeds a minimum number, others can choose to help promote a petition by boosting the post, much like a Facebook sponsored post, which increases the reach of the petition to others.

The for-profit company makes its cash from subscription members, using tracking profile data on petition signers, and promoting advertised petitions to targeted members. 

The volume of signatures doesn’t necessarily mean a petition will have a successful outcome, but with enough voices behind them some petitions do result in "victories". So far the company has recorded 35,573 cases where petitions were able to bring about change.

For instance, 292,000 signatures helped to end the sales of eggs from caged hens in UK retailer Tesco. There is even a petition to bring vegan based burgers to McDonalds in the United States, with over 200,000 signatures. 

South Africa has its own flavour of petitions, ranging from calls to ban rhino poaching to petitions for faster severs for gamers to play Fortnite.

Here are some of the South African petitions that drew the most support on Change.org:

A call to ban the trade of rhino horn and the global trade in endangered species parts: 425,074 signatures. 

Anti-rhino-poaching petitions are by far the most popular petitions on the website. This one was the largest we could find with almost half a million people signing up.


Let Caster Semenya run #HandsoffCaster: 281,777 signatures.

It should go without saying the a large chunk of South Africa is behind Semenya's ongoing battle with the IAAF and its attempt to impose a rule that would prevent female athletes with naturally high testosterone levels to run on certain distances, unless they take medication to reduce those levels.


A pastor wants to send a petition to end farm murders to the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres: 271,734 signatures. 

Kraaifontein-based paster Louis Green started this campaign to raise awareness about farm murders in South Africa. He wants to take it to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres.


One of South Africa’s most famous victories was this petition to end corrective rape back in 2011: 170,252 signatures.

In March 2008 Ndumie Funda founded Luleki Sizwe after the deaths of her friend Luleka Makiwane and her fiancée Nosizwe Bizana. Both were victims of corrective rape and died because of HIV/AIDS, infected by their attackers. Three years later, Funda filed the 170,000 strong petition to the South African government to fight "corrective" rape of lesbian. As a result the South African Parliament formed a national task force to stop the abuses.

"There's almost no person in the country who has seemingly less power than this [South African] woman, but she runs the most effective campaign on this issue in history," Ben Rattray, the founder of Change.org, told Forbes in an interview in 2012.


The banning of single-use plastic bags in South Africa: 103,312 signatures.

A call by Johannesburg based Savern Miller to ban single use plastic in South Africa is one of the latest petitions to come out of Change.org. Its already got over 100,000 signatures and was published on 11 June. 


There is also a petition for SA gamers calling for a faster Fortnight server to compete with international players – though it has only 5,713 signatures so far.

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