Supermarket shopping tends to be one of life’s dull but relatively uncomplicated experiences. There’s the odd decision that takes longer than you’d like. I struggle with the ever-expanding array of egg descriptions, wracking my brain to determine which is the least evil option. The grocery shopping degree of difficulty increases tenfold, however, when you have a small person in tow. And I generally do.
First there is disagreement over cereal types and the fact you’d rather buy something with a marginally lower sugar content than actual confectionery. Next, comes the bread and baked good section where you must complete the manoeuvre of collecting your sliced wholegrain without putting chocolate-chip cookies in kiddie eyeline. Then there’s the sweets aisle, the assortment of small but overpriced toys which grab you out of nowhere and don’t get me started on ice-creams.
By the time you reach the checkout, you’re done. Cooked. Exhausted. You’ve said ‘no’ and ‘don’t touch that’ and ‘stay close to me please’ several hundred times. You’re desperate to get this last past over and done with, bags packed into the car, home and items unpacked as fast as is humanly possible. You’re mentally tallying the minutes until being able to tuck into the freshly purchased punnet of strawberries currently being scanned by the shop assistant… when you spy the Ooshies.
For the unacquainted, Ooshies are the latest plastic abomination being offered at a major supermarket. They’re tiny plastic figures of Lion King characters that kids can collect for a few weeks before being unceremoniously thrown in the trash. I won’t name and shame the provider because this is a problem of all the supermarket chains, not just one. These ‘collect them all’ promotions have become the trend of choice, keeping parents loyal to the supermarket offering their child’s latest obsession.
Targeting parents at the checkout means resistance is low, even for the most environmentally friendly among us. I’m ashamed to say that there are a few Ooshies floating around our house. There have also been multiple shopping trips where I have valiantly refused our fair share of the toys and dealt with the resulting kinder-kid-rage. Giving him a non-sugar-related treat at the supermarket is tempting and easy. I just wish there were a mechanism that didn’t involve an epic contribution to landfill.
Enter: New Zealand. One supermarket chain over the water has implemented a new approach. They are still running a collectible promotion but what are Kiwi kids collecting? Seeds. Seeds to grow fruit, berries, flowers, vegetables and herbs at home. They come complete with a little pot of soil that’s made from recycled materials and compostable when you’re done. Kids get to learn about where their food comes from and grow something that helps rather than hinders the planet. Plus, the supermarket still gets its return business from that lucrative market segment, parents.
It’s time we did better, got better, demanded better. If you’re incensed too, then you can head to futurelandfill.org and sign a petition to ask for more from our big supermarket chains. There you’ll find terrifying images of where those cute little plastic Lion King collectibles will really end up. Outliving all of us in garbage dumps around the country.
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