It’s time for another Better Earth Q&A. This month we interview the lovely Hayley McLellan – Environmental Campaigner for the Two Oceans Aquarium and driver of the Rethink the Bag campaign.
You have done so much with Rethink the Bag, what is the next step for you?
Well I am not yet finished…hopefully not far from it but there is still a lot of energy that needs to be put into this campaign to realise the objective of a plastic shopping bag free South Africa. I set my intention that I will achieve this by my next milestone birthday which is looming….so I had better keep up the momentum!
Have you noticed a growing trend in the public to move towards living sustainably?
Most definitely. This is fast becoming a global conversation, especially concerns about the colossal amount of plastic pollution in the environment. When the big names such as the BBC, Sky News, Queen of England, Anglican Church, Sir David Attenborough and Lewis Pugh are making powerful statements about the state of the ocean, then we know this topic has moved to near the top of the list of global concerns. Their voices certainly help to amplify our important messages. Also take note of the number of packaging free/conscious stores that have sprouted up around Cape Town in just the past 6 months. This is SO exciting!
It is also important to note that consumers are beginning to hold corporate brands accountable for their actions. With the advent of social media, big brand names need to be cautious about their business and products claims because the public are cottoning on fast to any greenwashing…
How can stores make it easier for consumers to use less packaging?
- Offer a wide range of unpack-aged fruit, veg and meat. Sincerely seek alternative, environmentally responsible packaging.
- Be open to concerned customer voices when approached with complaints and suggestions.
- Be willing to engage with packaging and recycling companies so as to have ONE conversation about how to improve current systems which ensures more and more single-use plastic IS recyclable.
- Provide cardboard boxes to pack purchase in, thus removing the need for plastic shopping bags altogether.
- Educate customers.
- Reward customers for making better, less packaged, choices.
- Involve and engage customer input and ideas. Market packaging free as “hip”.
- Ensure that unpackaged goods reflect a lower purchase price than the packaged alternative.
What is your favourite Better Earth Product?
The Dishwashing Liquid! Could eat it up it smells (and cleans) so good!
You have arranged the Penguin Waddle a few times. Did you find public interest grew over the years?
Definitely. It takes time though to establish any such movement or event, so we had to be really consistent by putting the Waddle on for seven consecutive years. In 2018 it was decided to take a break from the Waddle for a Week as we had a good season and not everything needs to last forever. We were also unsure of how to measure our actual impact on all communities in terms of the awareness created and behavioural change actions committed to , so we chose to take a step back and assess this. From the disappointment voiced, that we are not having a Waddle this year, it does seem as though the event was consistently well received in general.
Who is your best NGO doing good things for the earth?
I love the work of GREENPOP so much! Coincidentally they began in the same year as the Waddle, 2011, and to watch them grow (literally) has been amazing. I have been a part of their Platbos Reforest Fest events for so many years now and I feel more enriched as a human being every time.