Parents get ready, today Coles launched their Little Shop 2 campaign. There are 30 new mini plastic versions of their products to collect – according to their marketing machine, the “shrink-a-tron’s been busy!”. The irony of pushing mini plastic products in the middle of Plastic Free July has us shaking our heads. But Coles assure us, the plastic wrappers the plastic toys come in can be recycled. Phew.
The last round became 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. Again this time there’s 30 to collect and only ‘a limited time’ to get your full set, so hurry, shop now!
You know how this plays out now and what to expect: There’ll be scrolling through the listings of collectables on Ebay, joining the many swapping groups on Facebook, or trekking out to any supermarket offering the rare collectable 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. Along with the set that was so precious last time.
But did you know that this time around, they’v upped the ante and you could win a mini full of Coles minis? Imagine… a whole car overflowing with bits of plastic?
An environmental nightmare
Laura Trotta, an environmental engineer, calls the Coles minis 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.
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.
Click-bait trash talk
As we sit back and watch the frenzy and eco-backlash from the latest Little Shop Campaign, we might spare a minute to wonder what Coles and other retailers could do differently next time.
We might also wonder at the backlash and ask why it riles people up so much. With the mounds of plastic already in our trolleys, why are we so focused on this campaign? And just take a look at any toy shop and you’ll see, Coles Little Shops are in very popular company.
Regardless of where you sit on this campaign, the question remains: When will our retailers reach a point where their best interests, their ultimate drivers, are inline with the needs of our environment? We live in hope that they find a way to encourage people, including our kids, to be more mindful of what they’re buying.
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