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building a movement to end plastic pollution

It’s currently impossible to shop in a supermarket or grocery store and avoid single-use plastic. Fruits and vegetables are packed in non-recyclable plastic clamshells, bags and cellophane; chips and energy bars are packaged in non-recyclable plastic lined foil bags and wrappers; meat is packed in polystyrene trays with shrink wrap; drinks are packaged in plastic bottles, and on and on… It’s frustrating and challenging to try to limit your consumption of single-use plastics in this environment.

But it does not have to be that way. Grocery stores can sell fruits and vegetables unwrapped (gasp!!!), oats, rice, flour, salt, sugar, quinoa, beans and much more can be sold in bulk, as can oils, vinegars and products like shampoo, conditioner, soaps, moisturizers, cleaning sprays, liquids and more.

That’s where YOU come in! Take 5 minutes right now to reach out to your grocery store, supermarket, healthfood store, coop, bakery, anywhere you buy food and simply ask them to stop selling things packaged in single-use plastic.

To help make this easier, we’ve drafted a sample letter, packed with facts, that you can adapt to make it yours – or if you’re not feeling inspired, just fill in the missing names and use it as is. If it’s easy to find, consider adding how much money you spent at the store the previous year – sometimes your online banking or credit card company makes that info easy to find.

You can view and copy the text below or click here to download it as a Microsoft Word document.

Dear Manager, 

I love your store and shop there often. But there is one thing I do NOT love and that is all of the unnecessary single-use plastic packaging around the products I would like to buy from you but can no longer stomach purchasing.

I’m writing today to urge you to commit to shifting away from plastic to a system of bulk delivery, reusables, and, where necessary, products packaged in single-use containers made from glass, metal or paper, all of which can be recycled successfully for multiple reuses.

Plastics recycling is largely a myth – only 9% of all the plastics ever produced have been recycled. And even the small amount of plastic that does get recycled is only reused once or twice before ending up in a landfill, incinerator or ocean and all of these final resting places are bad news for both our environment and human health.

This is a BIG problem because plastic does not biodegrade. It only breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces which then work their way into our air, water, soil and the bodies of fish, wildlife and, yes, all of us humans. A recent study by Australia’s University of New Castle found that we’re all consuming roughly a credit card’s worth of plastic each WEEK. And that’s a serious problem because plastics are endocrine disruptors and early studies have shown that they increase our risk of obesity, cancer, infertility, diabetes, and developmental disorders, at a minimum.

Nine million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans each year. Scientists predict that there will be one pound of plastic in the ocean for every three pounds of fish by 2025 and more plastic trash in the ocean than fish by 2050!

In the meantime, seabirds are dying at alarming rates with bellies full of plastic, dead whales are washing up on beaches with stomachs full of plastic on a regular basis in countries around the world, and if you haven’t watched the deeply painful video of the poor sea turtle with the plastic straw lodged in its nose, you should spend 3 minutes doing so.

Plastic packaging is also a significant contributor to our climate change crisis. Plastics are made from fossil fuels. Their creation both relies on and perpetuates the extraction of oil and gas which is the primary cause of our climate crisis and which we must end in short order if we hope to continue to enjoy life on this planet.

In short, doing business as usual is no longer acceptable.

As a leading retailer, you have a responsibility to STOP carrying products packaged in single-use plastic. Many of the items you carry wrapped in plastic do not benefit from this over-packaging (which, by the way, carries its own health risks as chemicals from plastic packaging has now been shown to be leaching into our food.)

I urge you to reduce your single-use plastic footprint by switching to reusable containers for dry goods, produce, cleaning and self-care products wherever possible and switching to products that are sold in cans, glass, cardboard  and paper only where you must continue to sell single-use packaged products.

And please stop selling water and other drinks bottled in plastic immediately! Not only is the packaging contributing to our massive plastic pollution problem, but studies have shown that bottled water contains significantly more mircoplastics particles than tap water does. Although the impact of microplastics contamination on human bodies is not yet well-studied, it seems very likely that these products are harmful to your customers’ health.

I encourage you to set clear targets and timelines for this process and to make them public and provide regular updates on your progress.

In the meantime, both my conscience and my concerns about plastic’s toxicity for my own and my family’s health are forcing me to forgo buying many items in your store. Instead of doing a full shop at your store, I now have to hopscotch around town to buy this in bulk at one store and that in bulk at another. I would love to be able to return to a one-stop shop at your store and hope you will make the changes soon to make that possible.

Thanks for taking the time to consider my request. I look forward to your response.