Have Supermarkets Diverted Their Plastic Bag Budgets into Plastic Toys?

One of the major supermarket chains recently released their latest collectible toys. This time the
Real Treats
apparent agenda is the promotion of healthy food choices. If the total at the cash register reaches $30, a toy is issued, shaped just like a teeny-tiny piece of healthy food.

Only it isn't healthy food at all. It's more plastic waste. The same supermarket chain released another series of plastic toys at Christmas, following the success of another previous plastic collectible earlier in 2018. Yes that's three sets of collectible toys.

Meanwhile, most customers are diligently adapting to the plastic bag ban and recycling their plastic packaging into supermarket provided bins.

Am I the only person who can see something wrong with this picture? Can anyone else see the hypocrisy of banning a plastic product, only to give away more plastic products than ever? This supermarket might market the toys in terms of healthy food choices, but do they really care about healthy food choices? Are they awarding the toys to customers who have made healthy food choices? Or are they simply awarding the toys to customers who have made any $30+ purchase at all?

Basically, I could buy twelve bottles of fizzy, sugary drink and twelve bags of genetically modified, forest demolishing, artificial colour containing lollies and still get my healthy food choices plastic toy reward. But I wouldn't get a plastic bag to put it all in.

In March 2018 CNN reported that the plastic Island in the Pacific Ocean, known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch had grown to become three times the size of France. The ABC have recently reported that Australia's recycling waste has been rejected by China, leading to plastic waste being dumped in Australian landfill.

I love animals and the natural world. I sniff the air, feel the wind, walk the lake and visit the forest. I lay on the grass and dig in the sand. I visit the sea when I can. These things make me love the planet and want to preserve the beauty that improves my life so much. When I see the ecological disaster unfolding that is plastic waste, it breaks my heart and grates my soul.

I must admit, when I was a young mum, I bought my child the happy meal and let her have the toy. But we are older and smarter and we know we are breaking the world. Later, I also remember the amount of plastic toys we ended up discarding when her childhood was over. I wonder whether the op shops can actually handle all of the stuff that passes, briefly, through our hands and into theirs?

Here's a suggestion for supermarket chains who claim to be promoting healthy food choices: Give the kids healthy food! For every $30 spent, give them a watermelon or other rewarding fruit. Or give them a vegetable with a fantastic recipe attached to make it taste amazing to any troubled eater.

Basically, as parents, we need to maintain the integrity of our voice as influencers in our children's lives. That doesn't mean lecture them and bully them into eating their veggies, which initiates all kinds of control dynamics.

Talking about the benefits of each food type and being excited about food creates an atmosphere of information, rather than control. I used to tell my daughter that broccoli looked like little trees because the iron helps us stand up tall and strong. This kind of talk creates a positive association around food, rather than the fearful 'I hope he likes it' attitude which sets off their judgement/rejection process.

Informing our kids about their food choices also involves discussing the full life cycle of the things they choose to consume. The plastic bottle. The styrofoam container. And the plastic toy, the temporary collectibles that are designed for one thing only, to get consumers to spend more money.

They only know what we teach them. If we don't teach them, the next advertisement for a new toy will lure them blindly. Be a voice of influence in your child's life that is louder that the TV ads, or even better still, turn off the TV and take them outside into nature. Show them how beautiful the world is. How everything is connected into ecosystems that are bigger than we are. Show them the rivers and the forest and the sea. Let them feel and taste the earth so that they bond with it.

After that, if they can foster a loving connection to the natural world around them, they are more likely to make the choices that we all know we need to make. Our own tiny choices are a drop in the ocean compared to the difference a few well made choices by a large supermarket chain can make. But those supermarket chains are operated by people making choices. Eventually our children's generation will be running those supermarkets. I hope we have time.

Leanne Margaret © 2019


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