Cast your minds back to March 2020… and before you switch off, don’t worry – this isn’t a post about COVID-19. Sort-of.
In March 2020, the world needed hand sanitisers and face masks (and toilet roll, apparently). Suddenly, there was a shortage of these items that previously took up minimal space on shop shelves if at all.
What happened next is very important to the point I’m trying to make.
People wanted it; people needed it; people did anything to get their hands on it, even take the sanitiser dispensers off the walls in hospitals. They made masks from anything they could; I even saw someone go into a shop wearing an old Halloween mask. We were all desperate, and scared.
The weeks went on, and demand only grew. Suddenly, big brands, small brands, unrelated brands and new brands popped up to offer everything we needed.
BrewDog, a craft beer company, began making hand sanitiser at its distillery in Aberdeenshire. An American company went from making CBD products to making hand sanitiser. Even a car polish company started making it.
What we saw was everyone leaping at the chance to supply the demand.
Did it help? Yes.
Did it make them money? Also yes.
The world wanted it and needed it and it was provided in MASSIVE amounts.
So, what am I getting at here?
The planet needs to be saved, but we have to WANT it, desperately and loudly.
During my three-day Earth Day challenge in April 2021, my daughter and I live-streamed during a litter-pick in our local area. I was a little surprised about the amount of engagement this live-stream received, as essentially it was just my daughter with her litter picker and me with my phone in one hand and rubbish bag in the other, chatting away.
The number one thing we picked up that day was crisp packets. Upon realising this, rather than just suggest the compostable brands we’d tried, I decided to point out that the technology and the compostable materials for the use of crisp packets exist. My next question, framed more as an encouragement, wasn’t “why don’t you choose those instead?”, it was “why aren’t big brands using compostable materials?”
My first argument was cost. At the end of the day, I’m not naïve; they are running an enormously huge business and from what I know so far about huge companies like Walkers, they care about money, not people or the environment.
A quick Google search found that Walker’s website states:
“We understand the responsibility we have to reduce the impact of our packaging on the environment, and we’re on it!
“At the moment, the packaging we use is the best way to keep our crisps crunchy and delicious. However, we’re aiming to make all our packaging 100% recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025”
I continued to scroll through the Q&A part of the website to find the answer to my next question: why not NOW? There wasn’t an answer. There was, however, a section labelled ‘Can’t find your answer here? We can’t wait to hear from you’. I wouldn’t want to keep them waiting, now, would I?
Here’s the message I sent them.
I would like to request more information regarding your sustainability and environmental promises as stated on your website. Could you clarify how this process is progressing and why it is not an earlier target date?
The technology and materials for compostable crisp packets exist, so to suggest it could take until 2025 to achieve doesn’t quite make sense to me.
I really do look forward to your reply as someone who is extremely passionate about the unnecessary and avoidable impacts on our environment.
Mrs J Clough
When/if I get a reply, I’ll be sure to keep you updated.
If Walkers, or any company, see trends that could skyrocket or even reduce their profits they have to act. For example, if the consumers of the six billion packets of crisps consumed each year in the UK bought brands of crisps in compostable packaging instead, what do you think these big companies would do?
I bet they wouldn’t wait until 2025 to make change…