Little shop packets being thrown out

Coles have just announced they’re extending the Little Shop campaign, much to the delight of collectors who are still missing a vital grocery or two to complete their collection.

It’s become a hot topic of conversation in the schoolyard, the media and in many households (“anyone got the Nutella? I have two Tim-Tams and Weet-Bix to swap”). The marketing strategy is a familiar one, spend money and get a ‘free’ collectible. In this case, spend $30 and get a new toy in the shape of a Coles product. With 30 to collect and only until the end of the month to get your full set, hurry, shop now! But wait happy consumer, the promotion has been extended to September! Phew, your eager kids are thrilled, the pressure’s off to complete their collection in the next week.

You know the narrative all too well. Scrolling through the 8000+ listings of collectables on Ebay and joining the many swapping groups on Facebook. Trekking out to any supermarket offering the rare collectable that is missing from your child’s collection. The grandparents save them too, knowing the cuddles and smiles they’ll be smothered with.

You also know that this hype is short lived. That these little pieces of plastic, wrapped up in more plastic will be soon forgotten. Destined for the back of the cupboard and ultimately landfill.

An environmental nightmare

Laura Trotta, an environmental engineer, calls the campaign, “an environmental nightmare” while other environmentalists have condemned Coles’ disregard for sustainable practice.

If only our damaged and degraded environment could nag like children do. Remind us that our decisions impact its wellbeing. Tell us when it is in pain. Call out to us to remember our canvas bags and to bring a reusable drink bottle.

Coles little shop rubbish

Beyond the world of Little Shop exists a larger problem- where Coles hands out free, double strength, plastic bags and excessively over packages food. With only 9% of plastic being recycled each year- there is an incomprehensible amount of plastic waste that accumulates and pollutes our environment. As such, there is an urgency for us to be conscious of our consumer choices. 

Convenience is key when you are juggling a million different things at once- including kids. But convenience is also the key problem with regard to single use plastics. It’s all too easy.

The aftermath

As we approach the end of the Little Shop Campaign, return to our usual shopping spots and begin to clean up the aftermath of collectables, we might spare a minute to wonder what Coles and other retailers could do differently next time. Despite its popularity, we ask when will they reach a point where their best interests, their ultimate drivers, are inline with the needs of our environment? And we live in hope that they find a way to encourage people, including our kids, to be more mindful of what they’re buying.

This article first appeared in our monthly newsletter The Gazette. Sign up here and never again miss your monthly dose of good stuff.