Plastic Wrapped – The Fight Against Ourselves

If only there was a way to keep fruits and vegetables fresh……

We’ve All Seen It Before

Don’t laugh, we’ve all seen it before. Fruits and vegetables, freshly cleaned and peeled for your convenience and then plastic wrapped within an inch of their lives.

Of course, there was probably some reason why the shopkeeper thought that this would be a good idea. Perhaps, they thought, it looks nicer, fresher somehow? Maybe, they pondered, because the customer doesn’t have to peel it, they will be more likely to buy it? Or perchance, they pontificated, if the customer sees my produce is clean they will come rushing to me?

Who’s To Blame?

Wrapping freshly peeled fruits and vegetables is stupid of course. It is a complete waste of packaging, as fruits and vegetables already come pre-packaged, it’s called skin and it’s been around for quite a while now. But, before we point the finger of blame towards the shopkeeper or supermarket owners, let’s think about who is really to blame?

For better or for worse, we all (most) of us live in a capitalist society. Typically, the capitalist society follows the theory of supply and demand. So, if the customer (us) demands something, then the supplier (the shopkeeper) will provide it, for a profit (hopefully). And profit is the key word here. Shopkeepers and supermarket owners wouldn’t go about peeling and packing products like this for no reason. Why? Because it is expensive!

So, the reason shopkeepers and supermarket owners continue to do stupid things is not that they want to destroy the planet. It is because we, the customer, continue to buy these products.

The Solution

One of the fundamental problems with capitalism is that it doesn’t have a “sensible” filter (or an ethical filter for that matter). Fortunately, humans do and here lies the solution to the problem. We need to recognise that the problem lies with the not with the retailer but the consumer. Once we understand this then we realise that only the consumer has the power to make the changes.

Once the consumer decides not to buy, then that thing will stop being made and sold.

Time to Stand Up and Do Something

Now that we know why these things are happening, what can we do about it?

  • Perhaps the easiest thing to do is simply not buy from the store that sells products without any concern for the environment. If enough people did this, then, of course, the stores would change policies.

But maybe you can do a little more?

  • What about talking to the storekeeper and explaining why this is a bit stupid. Explain, that as their customer you would prefer to see less packaging.
  • Maybe you can share photos with friends or on the store’s social media sites and draw attention to their wasteful practices?
  • Or what about going viral social media like Natalie Gordon who succeeded in changing policy on a nationwide chain of supermarkets with a single tweet!

I think Yvon Choinard, the founder of Patagonia summed it up when he said: “To do good you actually have to do something”.

Whether we like it or not, we are stuck with the capitalist system or supply and demand. But now you know where the real power lies, go out and use it!