🔙Taking Plastic Packaging Back To The Store For Plastic Free July🫙

August 1, 2022

In celebration of Plastic Free July 2022, Beyond Plastics Local Groups & Affiliates hosted "Plastic Take-Backs" in which they returned used plastic packaging to major grocery chains across the country and called on CEOs to commit to phasing out single-use plastic packaging.

Although polls show that the majority of US consumers want to avoid products packaged in plastic, individuals have no control over the amount of single-use plastic that goes to market. While individual decisions are an important piece of the puzzle, consumer brands and retailers need to curb their reliance on single-use plastic and offer consumers plastic and packaging-free alternatives by:

  • Selling fruits and vegetables without plastic clamshells, bags, wrappers, and trays. If offering certain items “naked” is not possible, cardboard packaging is a far better alternative than plastic.

  • Offering dry goods like beans, rice, flour, pasta, cereal, coffee, tea, spices, salt, sugar, and more in bulk and allowing customers to bring their own reusable bags to fill.

  • Offering personal care items like shampoo, moisturizer and cleaning supplies like laundry powder and dish soap in bulk and allowing customers to bring their own reusable containers to fill up.

  • Where offering items in bulk is not an option, switching all storebrand products to cardboard, paper, glass, and aluminum packaging and selecting namebrand products that are packaged in non-plastic alternatives.

  • Immediately ending the sale of water bottled in plastic and installing water filling stations for customers as well as selling bulk water refills in areas where water quality is an issue.

Many of the actions focused on Trader Joe's, a popular chain that sells higher-end goods in primarily storebrand packaging with events taking place outside TJ’s in California, Colorado, Washington, DC, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington.

To amplify their efforts, we’ve kicked off an online campaign urging Trader Joe’s CEO Dan Bane to take immediate action to reduce single-use plastic packaging across all stores. Click here to join us in contacting him now.

Other local groups and affiliates took their plastic packaging back to Safeway, Walmart, Giant, Market 32, and Tops Friendly Markets. They made signs and several even made "Plastic Monster" costumes to create an eye-catching visual element. The advocates shared photos of the mountains of packaging they'd accumulated from routine shopping trips and some of them even mailed the plastic packaging they’d collected back to the retailers while others shared photos of the waste on social media and tagged the stores in their posts. Many of the organizers issued media advisories and releases and received positive media coverage!

Check out some highlights and fun photos below and please consider joining the movement by joining a local group or starting your own.

Boston, Massachusetts. Our local group, Beyond Plastics Greater Boston held an ambitious three-part event. They met up at the statehouse where they hosted inspiring speakers including some of our favorite allies, Kirstie Pecci of Just Zero, Janet Domenitz of MassPirg and Staci Rubin of Conservation Law Foundation. The group then marched to Trader Joe’s corporate headquarters to deliver their message and packaging before heading on to South Station where the group staged a performance of “Death By Plastic” by artist Anne-Katrin Spiess. This eye-catching performance and the rally caught the attention of both passersby and also reporters with coverage from WBUR, Boston University, and Watertown News. And they did it all during a serious heatwave.

Bozeman, Montana. Our local group, Beyond Plastics Gallatin Valley met up outside the Bozeman Public Library to rally for plastic reduction. Their group featured an iconic “Plastic Monster”, an adorable young advocate, some good signs, and a whole lotta plastic packaging trash.

Fort Collins, Colorado. Our affiliate, FoCo Trash Mob gathered outside the Trader Joe’s to call on the company to take meaningful steps to reduce single-use plastic. In addition to rallying outside Trader Joe’s, these folks also mailed all their Trader Joe’s plastic packaging waste back to Trader Joe’s headquarters in Boston to help ensure that CEO Dan Bane gets the message about reducing single-use plastic in all their stores.

Mountainview, California. Our affiliate, formerly 350 Silicon Valley, now known as Climate Action Califorina made signs and props and gathered a large crowd outside the Trader Joe’s to send CEO Dan Bane a message about breaking free from plastic. Their event was covered by the Mountainview Voice.

Seattle, Washington. Our local group, Beyond Plastics Greater Seattle met up outside Trader Joe’s to send a message to CEO Dan Bane. This fantastic crew of advocates had met up in advance for a sign-making party with AMAZING results. Organizer Cindy Arasim even wrote and performed a great ukulele tune.

New York, New York. Led by NYC volunteer Tina Pelikan, a group of fantastic advocates braved the extreme heat to gather outside Trader Joe’s and demand change!

Albany, New York. Our good friends at Zero Waste Capital District and other local activists met up outside the Market 32 (owned by Price Chopper) to call on CEO Frank Curci to reduce single-use plastics. They had a number of great speakers, including organizer Marc Thurston and Beyond Plastics president, Judith Enck. The take-back garnered coverage from both News 10 and WOOC.

Plattsburgh, New York. Inspiring young advocate Vicky Aguilar organized a great event outside Market 32 complete with a single-use plastic packaging robot. Her event made it into the news. Click here to read the Press Republican’s coverage.

Bainbridge Island, Washington. Our friends at Act4Climate gathered their plastic packaging waste from Safeway, made signs, and met up to demand change. Their event included an advocate dressed in a polar bear costume to raise awareness about the connection between plastics and climate change.

Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Our fantastic affiliate, Move Past Plastic organized a two-part plastic take-back with stops at both Giant and Walmart. Organizer Tamela Trussell’s remarkable advocacy resulted in a pre-event personal response from Giant’s President, Nicholas Bertram followed by a meeting with Giant’s public relations manager Ahold Delhaize’s brand lead, health and sustainability. That’s what we’re talking about!!!

Vernon Hills-Lincolnshire, Illinois. Our affiliate, Go Green Vernon Hills-Lincolnshire was planning an in-person event but decided to move it to a virtual one after the shooting on July 4th. Our wonderful volunteer, Seema’s 10-year old daughter put together this great video to showcase the group’s efforts.

Surfside Beach, South Carolina. The Chirping Birds Society gathered plastic waste and met up outside their local Walmart Neighborhood Market. In addition to calling on Walmart to reduce single-use plastic and used the opportunity to urge Surfside to enforce its plastic bag ban. Their rally was covered by local TV station WMBF.

What’s next? States are beginning to reconcile the problem of single-use plastic packaging by passing Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) laws, which would hold producers financially accountable for their packaging that becomes waste. It’s important that these laws include strong reduction, reuse, and refill requirements in order to effectively phase plastics out of packaging. Is your state considering an EPR law? Click here to learn more about Extended Producer Responsibility and find the 10 principles of effective legislation.

Get involved! We hope you will join the growing movement of concerned citizens working to move beyond plastics in their communities. Learn more about how you can start or join a Local Group or become an Affiliate of Beyond Plastics.


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