When plastic was first manufactured, it must have seemed like a miraculous product. It acted every way like one. We started using it for everything; from packaging food to toys to building things up. But now, we are realizing the doom that plastic actually brings. It has clogged up oceans, caused landfills, and is harming our planet at the same rate as pollution, if not more. As environmentalists are trying to ban plastic and trying to popularize cheaper, eco-friendly substitutes, governments are siding with them and coming out with policies to plug the manufacturing of plastics. Now, New Zealand has come up with a brand-new plan to tackle the problem of plastic goods.
New World group of supermarkets have started to ditch plastic completely. The first step that the owner of the New World store at Bishopdale in Christchurch took was taking off plastic wrapping on the vegetables and fruits. They are now labeled as ‘food in the nude’. Nigel Bond, the owner, still remembers how he entered the department store after this move and was struck by a familiar mixture of odors coming from the fresh fruits and vegetables. It reminded him of a fond memory from his past where his father used to take him to the local market to buy fresh veggies. According to Bond, they used to strip their customers of such a delightful experience by wrapping the products in plastic. Earlier, the fresh odor never reached the customers.
However, nostalgia was not the only reason for Bond to take this decision. It was a conscious choice to go against the use of plastics. And the result was amazing! First, the new kind of shelving was admired by the customers. But then the statistics came in which blew the expectations of Bond and others. They kept monitoring the sale of spring onions, the one vegetable on which they tried the concept at first and the sales rose to about 300 percent, as mentioned by Nigel Bond in an article in New Zealand Herald. That is simply mind-blowing! Maybe the concept of ‘fresh vegetable odor’ is really working with the customers and they are buying more of it. While Bond does not attribute the increase of sale to just one factor, he tried it with other vegetables like radishes and silverbeet and the results were the same. So, it seemed like something is going right for Bond and we can assume that ditching the plastic may have been the right decision after all.
And now, other stores are following suit. About eight to nine supermarkets from the same company in South Island are starting to adopt sustainable practices by ditching plastic. Bond himself is talking with suppliers and trying to find out new ways to produce items which are plastic-free. Foodstuffs, the owner of the New World stores is also trying to implement the same in other areas as well, which includes areas which are not related to the produce.
Also, many supermarkets all across New Zealand have switched to reusable plastic bags from single-use plastic bags. That is a huge step forward in the direction of reducing plastic wastes. Now, it seems like plastic packaging in departmental markets is slowly going to go obsolete in New Zealand. Plus, the government has already signed an agreement to phase it out by July 1st of 2019.
While the suppliers are trying to find out different ways to lower plastic packaging, Bond believes that the real problem lies with the manufacturers. They are still not aware of what the customers want. So, it is here we can actually help them. Every manufacturer has a customer feedback option where you can post your own feedback. This will open discourse between the manufacturer and consumers and soon, they will be able to implement the required changes in their production. So, now, it’s time for us to say ‘No’ to plastic.
IMAGE CREDIT: satina