My life would be much easier if I wasn’t so freaked out about the plastic apocalypse in our supermarkets. Just once, I’d love to be able to go back in time to when I was oblivious to plastic. Imagine my peace of mind if I could shop at Woolworths, Coles or Aldi and not bat an eyelid at all the plastic-wrapped fresh produce on their shelves.
But I can’t ignore it. I know too much.
Humans have created so much plastic, it’s in our food. Don’t believe me? Plastic is now found in most table salts! Let that sink in when you sprinkle salt on your hot chips. If you’re eating fish with your chips, the fish probably ingested plastic too. After all, more than 8 million tonnes of the stuff washes into the sea each year. Our oceans are fast becoming plastic soup. You might think this is an exaggeration, but plastic breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces until it becomes microplastic. Microplastic is near invisible to the naked eye, but it continues to build up in the food chain – in the sea, the air, and on the land.
If microplastic is in our food, it must be in us, right? Sure enough, it is. This week I read an alarming story that plastic is now in our poop. We are literally eating, drinking, breathing, and pooing plastic. So, you’d think we’d stop making the stuff, right!? Nope. We’re on a plastic binge. We produce almost 300 million tonnes of plastic each year with a prediction we’ll quadruple plastic production by 2050.
I don’t know about you, but all this disturbs the hell out of me.
There’s a disconnect between our increased awareness of the problem with plastic and what the supermarkets are doing. They’re on a plastic bender. Plastic wrapped lemons anyone?
Three years ago, it was my hope that someone fierce and brave would magically appear and take the major supermarkets to task for their behaviour and convince them to kick their plastic addiction. No one at the time (remember, this was three years ago) was talking about it and no one ‘magically’ appeared.
So, I decided to do something. I started photographing the rows of fresh produce wrapped in plastic in the aisles of the major supermarkets. Seeing row after row and shelf after shelf of plastic in the fresh produce section had become so normal that consumers seemed to think it was, well normal.
My belief was if an image popped up on people’s smartphones, the effect would be jarring. A plastic wrapped avocado or a bagged banana suddenly looks ridiculous on social media. Fresh food, bought and traded loose for centuries, now has a plastic wrapper. A regular person, away from the hustle and bustle of the supermarket and scrolling through their social media feed would be jolted by the sheer lunacy of it.
My instincts were right. People started to react with indignation, and rightly so. As my social media skills improved, I learned about ‘tagging’ supermarkets and leaving visitor posts on their social media pages. Before I knew it, I’d become an accidental activist and the #PlasticFreeProduce campaign was born.
People all over the world were beginning to ‘see’ plastic. Like Keanu Reeves as Neo bursting out of his pod in The Matrix, the plastic wrappers were falling from people’s eyes.
It has been hard going though. I was volunteering my time to help expose an issue that I thought most people did not care about. I often felt like I was screaming into the void, but relief would always come when someone discovered my posts and shared it with their own friends and followers.
None of my work is possible without the interest and support of my beautiful followers. With their help, the #PlasticFreeProduce campaign is a thing. Seriously, there are over 8,000 posts just on Instagram that use the hashtag.
I was giddy when the #PlasticFreeProduce hashtag was shown on television screens around Australia when my hand-picked team of brave followers joined me on War On Waste. I’m sure the supermarkets loved our segment.
And now… drum roll please… after three years, the #PlasticFreeProduce campaign has a logo, gifted by one of my followers. Jenny from Mojito Creative has created the tasty logo below. Thanks Jenny!
Please download the logo from this folder or click on the image below to do so.
I want this image to go viral. To be used on all our private pages, environmental pages and especially shared to pages of businesses who over wrap their fresh food. It’s a fun logo that won’t prod people unnecessarily and will spread the message in a light-hearted way. You are free to use it in your own social posts about plastic wrapped food. I’d love people to coalesce around this logo, so it’s more of a global campaign and not just attached to the crazy lady from Australia (me).
Go forth and be free, little logo! The world desperately needs you.
To my beautiful followers, thank you for motivating me and letting me know there are people who care.
PS: If you’d like to find out the secret history (all the juicy bits I was too scared to put in a blog post) of the #PlasticFreeProduce campaign, my eBook Plastic Girl is quite revealing.