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Shopper sparks debate with photo of product's ironic design: 'They're using it to sell me something I don't need'

"It's like a Temu delivery on your decluttering day."

"It's like a Temu delivery on your decluttering day."

Photo Credit: iStock

While many companies are trying to find sustainable, cost-effective alternatives to plastic, it will take time to make the switch. Meanwhile, one shopper took to the r/Anticonsumption subreddit to share a photo of their troubling discovery in a store's cosmetics section.

What's happening?

The Redditor shared a photo of a "cheap plastic cosmetic travel bag that for sure won't last," as they described the item. 

The bag featured an ironic statement that other shoppers have encountered on products: "Collect moments, not things." 

"It's like a Temu delivery on your decluttering day," one user quipped

"The cheeky sayings on useless items piss me off. Mostly because I usually agree with the saying but then I get angry that they're using it to sell me something I don't need," another said

Why is plastic waste concerning?

Plastic products have implications for human health and also for the environment. Plastics have been attributed to serious diseases such as cancer, obesity, heart disease, and an increased risk of reproductive issues, among others. 

Most of these problems come from the synthetic chemicals used in plastic production, but plastic waste is a major crisis for the oceans and the planet. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the world produces about 400 million tonnes (more than 440 million tons) of plastic waste annually, and less than 10% of that has been recycled

While estimates vary, the UNEP stated that around 75 to 199 million tonnes (82 to 219 million tons) of plastic are floating in the oceans. Thousands of marine animals die each year from ingesting or getting tangled in plastic items, and others may become injured or face digestive problems. 

Plastic is also incredibly polluting, sometimes taking hundreds of years to break down and releasing toxic chemicals in the process. Half the world's plastic ends up in landfills, per Our World in Data, where it produces heat-trapping gases like methane as it decomposes. 

Are companies doing anything about plastic waste?

The Reddit user didn't mention where they found the plastic travel bag, so The Cool Down can't speak specifically on that company's sustainability policies. 

However, many businesses worldwide are taking steps to tackle plastic waste in their supply chains. For example, last year, McDonald's announced that its franchises in the U.K. and Ireland would start carrying paper utensils instead of plastic cutlery. 

Walmart also offers certain home cleaning products in eco-friendly cardboard packaging rather than plastic bottles and aims to have fully recyclable or compostable packaging for its private label by 2025.

What's being done about plastic waste more broadly?

Several promising alternatives to plastic are being developed and may soon become mainstream. For example, Apeel Sciences has made edible packaging for fruits and veggies, and California-based Sway recently launched the world's first scalable, sustainable plastic packaging alternative made of seaweed. It's testing the innovative product with J.Crew and Burton and plans to scale up production this year.

We can do our part to reduce plastic waste at home by swapping plastic products for planet-friendly items, donating or selling what we don't need instead of sending it to landfills, and recycling when possible.

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