Shame

It seems to me that large manufacturers and retailers are genuinely out of touch with the public. As environmental awareness increases and there are more and more demands for reductions in packaging, ditching unnecessary single-use containers and abandoning built-in obsolescence, it’s time that big corporations made some changes. Now I know that it takes dinosaurs a long time to respond, but I can’t help feeling that some of the reluctance to change is because it’s simply easier not to. However, it is not impossible – specifications can be amended, processes can be modified, expectations can be altered. Making the excuse that it’s because of economics just does not wash (economics are a fiction – plastic in the sea killing marine life is a reality).

So, I have decided that I will take action. I already vote with my money, but that’s a rather private action and, whilst it is important, is not going to make a huge difference in isolation. I am, therefore, taking to social media with direct, public messages to companies that I have issues with. Today, via Twitter, I targeted Seasalt, who make lovely organic clothes, claim to be environmentally responsible and pack all their goods in plastic.2018-08-21 (2)They did respond, which is at least something, but obviously it’s easier to blame someone else:2018-08-21 (3)

They haven’t responded further, but I hope that other people will join in and we might be able to persuade them to make the change.

I would like to think that shaming companies publicly might have some effect, because after all social media is a key part of their marketing strategy. Perhaps you’d like to join me? Do tell me about any companies that you have contacted and how they have responded. Perhaps we can support each other and make our ripples into waves.

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36 Comments

  1. Well done you! I’m not very good at buying clothes, but what we do buy a lot of is plants. I have spoken to our wholesaler, and they have agreed for us to return the plant pots. As for compost, we do use the empty bags over and over until they fall apart. What does nark us is trugs. They don’t last 5 minutes before they split, and we would love to find a solution to this. All suggestions welcome. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. I worked in a clothing shop for a brief (very brief) period and it was dismaying that ALL the items came individually wrapped in plastic. Even worse, the store insisted on only using their store-brand hangers. Many items like dresses and shirts and bras came on plastic hangers that had to be tossed out. It’s a ridiculous amount of waste. I can understand the need to protect the clothes during shipping, but could numerous items be put in a single bag? Anyway, good one you for calling them out and keeping on it!

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    • I hadn’t thought about the behind the scenes end of the clothing trade. I knew there was a tremendous wastage at the consumer end, including wearing clothes only once, because that outfit had been seen by friends ๐Ÿ˜จ. To have things wrapped individually before they reach the shop is simply madness.

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    • It does astonish me that there is so much profligate use of plastic and that information about the hangers just makes me shudder.

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  3. I was glad to notice the other day that one of my favourite clothes brands here in Australia has gone from plastic-coated size/information tags and plastic tagging barbs to attach them to the clothes, to cardboard and cotton or paper string, not a scrap of plastic to be seen. No bags given out, and hangers are recycled. Good for you, Rivers. I do believe in nag/ shame/ pester power, but more of us have to do it or we become solitary annoying squeaky little voices in the background roar of indifference.

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    • Yup, you are right… I find that Twitter is quite a good route as it is possible to build up quite a number of users retweeting and building momentum… especially for companies who use it a lot for marketing. It particularly irks me when a company makes a big thing about their green credentials but clearly doesn’t follow through in the slightly less obvious aspects (plastic tags – ugh!). It’s just green wash.
      It is, however, really great when you find that a company is doing the right thing, so yay for “Rivers” and all the others taking this sort of thing seriously.

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  4. Well done! My biggest bugbear is shrink wrapped vegetables. I just don’t buy them if they are packed like that, it’s ridiculous!

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  5. There is a Australian TV program called ‘War on Waste” that highlights many of these issues, and promotes taking action through social media to call out companies. You may well have a similar programme in the UK, to have access to the Aussie version. Worth a look.

    As Tammie pointed out there are so many points of outrageous plastic use and other waste throughout the supply chain. However, that shouldn’t stop us from making the changes we can, and demanding that companies change their practices too. Good on you for being such a champion for our planet. You inspire me to to more.

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    • I do find it wearing sometimes, but social media is good, because you do tend to feel less alone… and I think public shaming is a powerful tool for this sort of campaigning.

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  6. Excellent! I have written emails to local companies asking them to use packaging other than plastic, but a public forum is a much better idea.
    Sadly the local watercress company who responded very positivily to my email to tell me they had changed to a biogdegradable alternative have had to go back to their plastic packaging as retailers complained that customers could not see the product well enough through the new packaging. It looked perfectly fine to me.
    Grrr! Retailers too need educating it seems!

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    • Oh, how frustrating. I’m pretty sure that customers could be educated and that being more environmentally responsible is a powerful marketing tool, if only producers and retailers would be a little more creative with it.

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    • Watercress needs packaging? Our green grocer keeps it in water and then a paper bag when you go home.

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  7. Patricia Collins

     /  August 22, 2018

    Just read the following report on the closure of local packaging company in our local paper http://www.edp24.co.uk/business/stm-packaging-norfolk-in-administration-plastics-blue-planet-1-5661515. Makes me think that with campaigns like Dr.Snail’s, companies must adapt quickly to our new agenda. Let us hope that all the staff made redundant will find new jobs and the camaraderie that comes from belonging to a work group.

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    • It is so sad that our economy is locked into unsustainable practices and that businesses and livelihoods fail as a result. I really wish that companies would think more about their products and identify opportunities rather than doggedly carrying on with the old models. Perhaps if all companies undertook genuine environmental audits, looking at the wider impacts of their products/services, rather than just whether they recycle and have energy-efficient light bulbs, they would be able to develop in a sustainable way and not be so reliant on old practices. I can’t help feeling that some permaculture ideas would be useful for this sort of thing.

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  8. It is definitely time to work on the behind-the-scenes packaging. All told, there could be substantially more of this than what the consumer ends up putting in the bin and we just donโ€™t know.
    I donโ€™t have a Twitter account or do any other social media (apart from my blog), so public shaming is out for me. However, I could ask Rachelle Strauss, who started and runs Zero Waste Week (about to take place in September) if she could email/publicise your post to her followers?

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    • That would be great – the more people who participate, the better.
      As for the ‘hidden’ waste, it is something that really concerns me. I keep seeing articles about people who generate ‘no waste’ and I always think this is misleading because there is always waste up the line, even if it’s not in your home. How do we know how much waste is generated by restaurants, for example?

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  9. I have always recycled the plastic bags yarn comes into the shop in by reusing them on bulk purchasers, sending the responsibility elsewhere (!). Practically all yarn comes this way in 10 or 20 ball bags. Balls are a …. to move about any other way.
    I am about to talk myself out of a job but I am looking forward to the day when 10 balls of yarn come in a string net. Or better still ’cause they take up less space, so need smaller bags, everyone goes back to skeins/hanks and winds their own.

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  10. Hurrah for you Dr Snail, a good move to stand up and be counted. Morrisons have stopped using plastic bags to put veggies in and appear to be using their bread bags for the time being.

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  11. Good move Snail. I try to be as environmentally aware as possible but it does irritate me when I see totally unnecessary packaging – even if it isn’t plastic.

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  12. Great share to avoid plastic bags. I would off course avoid using plastic and suggest my near shop owner to use alternates.

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  13. Good for you, Jan! Having worked in a fair number of shops, restaurants etc over the years, I can vouch for how much waste and overpackaging goes on behind the scenes… And publicly calling companies out over these issues not only tells them that things need to change, it also makes their customers aware of the problem too! And changing customer attitudes is important – as long as companies are convinced they’re getting a competitive edge by packaging veggies, producing waaaaay more clothes than anyone could ever want to buy or packing shopping bags with tissue, ribbon and pot pourri, they’ll keep doing it! That said, I am noticing improvements in the wake of Blue Planet – my local supermarket, a long-time overpackaging offender, has started selling much more loose fruit and veggies these past months. So if we keep up the pressure, I think we can definitely make a difference! ๐Ÿ˜€

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