Bird Lovegod: Supermarkets putting profit before the environment when it comes to the use of plastics

Supermarkets have a massive impact on everything, us as individuals, our society, and the entire world.

Many environmental campaigners have been worried by the levels of plastic pollution. PA photo: Rui Vieira

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Bird Lovegod is an independent fintech consultant.

One of the major problems facing the world is our love of plastic. I’m not talking about the credit and debit cards in our wallets, I’m talking about the plastic that wraps everything, comes with everything, often has a functional life of a few moments, and lasts almost indefinitely in the environment.

Given that it didn’t even popularise until the 1960s there’s already a huge problem. If you multiply the amount of plastic created each year by the number of years it lasts, you get a number that’s almost infinite. Unsustainable has never been more literal than our current use of plastics.

It’s slightly ridiculous that a plastic bag will ‘outlive’ our civilisation. It speaks volumes.

Supermarkets have a lot to answer for. How difficult would it be for them to have ‘minimum packaging’ aisles, where people actually had the choice of buying produce that wasn’t plastic wrapped? It would be easy. And popular. Very popular. So why don’t they?

Here’s one reason. In fact, it’s the only reason. Profit. By wrapping produce in plastic, they can charge more. All the talk about recycling is nonsense. Virtually none of the plastic from households is truly recycled. Recycling means being made into something else. That’s when it’s recycled, not when it’s put into a bin of a certain colour. Why are we trying, and failing, to recycle something that doesn’t need to be used in the first place?

The reason for all the plastic packaging is profit, huge amounts of profit. Supermarkets say “consumers demand convenience”. Basically putting the blame and responsibility back to us, rather than themselves. We accept convenience when it’s offered, but what we really demand is responsibility, truth, transparency, and a planet that isn’t grotesquely polluted for the sake of corporate greed.

Wrapping every single item in virtually indestructible plastic film does not add life changing convenience for consumers.