A week against plastic

Plastic washed up on the beach.
Plastic washed up on the beach. / SUR
  • The campaign, which continues until 9 June, is supported by Greenpeace and raises the question of what would happen if nobody bought plastic packaged products

Images of beaches strewn with containers, or of marine animals wrapped up in plastic are not unusual. This, unfortunately, has become the norm in the last few years. The excessive use of plastic packaging - often not recycled - is already one of the main problems the planet faces, perhaps only equal to global warming.

To raise awareness about this problem is precisely the main objective of the campaign #boycottplastic, proposed by the platform Zero Waste Spain and supported by the organisation Greenpeace. The initiative, which runs until 9 June, has been encouraging consumers to avoid buying single-use plastic for a week. In this way it raises the question of what would happen if society came together and stopped buying foods and products that use single-use plastic packaging.

Greenpeace has said that with this boycott they hope to show supermarkets, brands and other establishments that the vast majority of citizens do not want to contribute to plastic pollution. They added that people are tired of listening to supermarkets say that they do not get rid of plastic because their customers buy it and so they can not do anything.

“Let’s show them that it can’t go on like this. Every time we buy plastic products, we invest our money in a model that is not sustainable and we allow brands and supermarkets to continue putting these products in our hands. If we don’t buy these products, clearly they’ll stop selling them and look for alternatives,” the organisation stated.

Greenpeace hopes, therefore, to change society’s mentality and promote a plastic-free future. “When you’re really conscious of the amount of plastic packaging you use and throw out each week, and what that means for our sea life and environment, [...] you can’t carry on consuming it in the same way. When that happens, a challenge that initially was only for one week, becomes a lifestyle, not only for you, but also for the people around you,” added the organisation.

Extending the process

According to data obtained on a global level by different associations, up to 12 million tonnes of plastic reaches the ocean each year, and yet to go shopping without buying plastic is completely impossible. For example, Greenpeace has highlighted cases such as parsley sold in a small plastic box; cakes wrapped individually then put into a larger plastic bag; apples sold as if they were tennis balls and tomatoes in a tray and then also wrapped in a paper film.

Given the “seriousness” of the situation, the organisation has appealed to extend this boycott and turn it into a way of life. In fact, they say that it is more than society’s fight against single-use packaging; they want to go further. “Now that you’ve started this week saying a clear ‘no’ to non-reusable plastic, continue doing it,” it asked.

Greenpeace highlighted the 21-day theory, that suggests that when an individual does something for that amount of time, it becomes part of their routine.

“Now is the time. And what if after one week of boycott we extend it to 21 days? And if we change this habit forever? And if millions of people do it? We would see the beginning of the end of plastic pollution,” said Greenpeace.

In order to be able to move forward, the organisaiton has produced some tools which help people to shop without plastic. It advises consumers to plan all shopping beforehand in order not to shop compulsively; to look for an unpackaged equivalent to the packaged goods purchased previously; and to take a bag, shopping trolley, or rucksack to use when shopping, as well as other containers for products bought loose or by weight.