Bristol Greenpeace volunteers and supporters were offering shoppers the chance to show their opposition to the excess plastic packaging that comes with the weekly shop, especially when buying fruit and vegetables. Our campaigning outside two major supermarkets on Saturday 15th September was part of a national Greenpeace campaign called #ShoppersRevolt and it also coincided with an international day of action called #Plastic Attack which was coordinated in Bristol by One By One Conservation. Greenpeace groups targeted some 64 shops up and down the country, but many more were visited by Plastic Attack teams.
During the morning Waitrose announced a pledge to remove plastic bags (assume for fruit and veg) by next year (2019). It’s a step in the right direction but definitely does not go far enough. UK supermarkets generate over 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste each year and we know that too large a proportion of that ends up in the ocean or in the environment. Virtually all of the major companies have signed up to the WRAP Pact which promises action on eliminating single-use plastic and ensuring all plastic packing is either reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. What? Our oceans cannot wait over 6 years from this problem to be resolved. We urgently need much more transparency on total plastic use, and annual targets to reduce that total well before 2025. Iceland stores are ahead of the pack with a promise to eliminate all its own label plastic packaging by 2023.
Our main team targeted Sainsbury at St Philips. The Deputy Manager supported the principles behind our action but was initially quite reluctant to let us campaign outside the store. After a while, he relented with some gentle persuasion and was more at ease once he had had a chance to check out the campaign with Head Office. Over a period of a couple of hours, the group ended up with a big trolley of unwanted plastic packaging, over 50 signatures and messages for the Manager and an additional 36 signatures to the 'End Ocean Plastics' petition. Well done to the Murray family (Maria, Joel and young Sam), Jayne, Stella, Vanessa, Gloria and Richard L.
A smaller team was dispatched to Tesco, Brislington where the store Manager was much more amenable to us campaigning outside the store. He had a good friend who was an influential member of the campaign group, Surfers Against Sewage, so he completely understood the problem of plastic that ends up in our oceans. Within an hour Vicki, Mark, Loz and Richard B had filled a small trolley of pointless plastic and some 22 shoppers had signed cards to give into the Manager.
Well done to the Bristol Plastic Attack teams who visited ASDAs at Bedminster and Longwell Green as well as Sainsbury, Clifton Down. Organiser, Alex Morrs posted on Facebook, "We reached hundreds of customers in Bristol, collected insane amounts of single-use avoidable plastic and sent a very clear message to the supermarkets that huge numbers of their own customers want urgent change."
Overall a very worthwhile couple of hours of action which was appreciated by many shoppers. They helped show that they want to see more urgent action on excess supermarket plastic - and the sooner the better! Their strong support is backed up by over 710,000 people who have signed our petition asking supermarkets to ditch throwaway plastic packaging - making it one of the most popular petitions organised by Greenpeace. If you have not signed it .... here's your chance. Link here: https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/s/plastic-free-supermarkets.