Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Using my voice regarding supermarket waste

In recent times I have become more and more concerned about the waste that my small family of three have been sending to landfill, or rather to the waste-to-energy incinerator that disposes of the waste in my borough  (which still produces toxic air pollution and toxic waste that goes to landfill).  Perhaps it is having a child and one on the way that makes me think about what the world will be like for them when they are grown up, I really don't want to leave a planet filled with toxic waste, pollution and mountains of non-biodegradable plastic.
I recently read that in America one ton of waste per person is disposed of every year and that so much rubbish has been discarded irresponsibly that there is a massive floating gyre of plastic the size of Texas swirling around the Pacific Ocean.  In fact 25% of all plastic ends up in the sea*. 
We are lucky enough to be able to buy a lot of organic food from the True Food Co-op, where we can buy most of our groceries loose and thus take home no plastic packaging to put out with our rubbish, unfortunately it isn't always convenient to go there and I often end up doing my weekly shop in a supermarket, more specifically Sainsburys.
Obviously some waste is recyclable, our local council recycles paper, card, tin cans and plastic, but only plastic in the shape of bottles which was the main focus of my dilemma, so much food, particularly organic food at Sainsburys comes in plastic wrapping, bags or trays and the only thing for it is to send it to the waste-to-energy incinerator.  I felt so unhappy about this that I decided to collect a weeks worth of plastic and return it to the supermarket because I read that supermarkets have a legal obligation to dispose of their waste responsibly.  It would also be sending them a message that I am not happy about the amount of waste that surrounds their food.
By the end of the week I had a good carrier bag full of non-recyclable plastic waste including things like fruit nets, plum punnets and cereal bags and today I took it back to the store.
I was really nervous because I didn't want to be laughed at, but also didn't want to be thrown out of the store!  I asked to speak to the store manager who came down and I expressed my concerns to him (Martin), I expressed particularly how the bag contained the waste from just a family of three and to think about how much there must be from all his customers combined, he listened carefully and took my name and number so that I would get some feedback after he passed on my complaint to their head-office. I told him that I realised that my small action probably wouldn't have much effect but I felt that I needed to say something.  I was polite and calm and didn't get aggressive or angry. 
I am really pleased that I did this. I know that I am only one small voice but if someone doesn't speak up then who will? 
I intend on emailing Sainsburys with further comments to reinforce my message.  I really do want someone to take note of this issue as it really can't continue.
Have you ever taken peaceful action against an organisation that has acted in a way that you disagree with?  What did you do?  What was their response?

Just some of our non-recyclable waste

*Revolution in a Bottle - Tom Szaky

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