Plastic waste is now a bandwagon. Blue Planet 2, the UN meeting on Oceans and the decision by the Chinese not to import UK recycling have put it firmly in our minds – this week, the BBC website had over 40 articles on plastic waste in two months alone.
And it’s January – I have heard a number of people making resolutions about reducing plastic, so it’s a good time for the bandwagon to take root. There are lots of readily available ideas for changing personal buying habits.i
But if we are serious about it, I dont think acting individually is enough: We must amplify our actions. Bandwagons matter. In the delicate dance of political feasibility, the fine balance between competitive edge and company value statement, the awareness of a growing opinion can help tip the scales. Rather than a viscious cycle of, “I would like to act, but…”, vocal consumers and voters can help promote a virtuous circle, encourage (literally give courage), those who are willing to lead. We want our leaders – political, business, public servants, to act where they can in the common good, rather than their institutional interest. But that means consideration of their personal interest, convenience, reputation etc might take a hit. If we expect them to run that risk, perhaps we should also be prepared to sacrifice a little of our convenience, money or time to get the change we want. Signing petitions is essential to prove vocal opinion. It takes seconds: For example, https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/plastic-free-supermarket-ef
But here’s some other ideas for amplifying actions too:
- Review products or services when asked. Companies publicise what you say. Your judgement on ‘Value for money’ entirely depends on what you value. It doesn’t just have to be quality and convenience. Having spent years deleting such emails, I now review vegetables, toothpaste, hotels, anything I can when I have time.
- Join or create bandwagons online with similar consumers about companies you use. Especially companies targetting a particular market – childrens products, specialist foods etc.
- Tweet your views to customer services for companies you use. Consumers have little real choice on packaging. Protesting on social media is available to all.
- We are all part of wider organisations – spot opportunities to change something at their events eg. craft materials for school events, initiatives at work to cut plastic. Support or initiate them where you can.
Good luck – and watch this space!