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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Roye

Individual Choice, Buying and Disposal of Products

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

In 2019, I came across a Strategy Awards magazine. While reading the magazine, an advertisement from Greenpeace caught my eye. It showed a graphic image of a turtle “choking” on a straw, with the caption, “Don’t suck the life from our oceans.” This advertisement, created by Greenpeace as part of its “Stop Sucking” Rethink press campaign, was geared towards reducing single-use plastics. The Campaign was so impactful, that it won ‘gold’ in the 2019 Strategy Awards.

Greenpeace, an environmental organization, has been raising public awareness about the impact of individual choices on the environment. Plastics were created as a convenience but has become a huge problem, with only 9% of all plastics created being recycled. Most plastics end up in the ocean or landfills (Melges, 2018).

However, more corporations are taking steps to address their environmental footprint and are rethinking their approach to packaging.

Nestle is “accelerating moves to ensure all its packaging is recyclable or reusable by 2025… [and is exploring] different packaging solutions to reduce plastic usage” with its new Institute of Packaging Sciences (Forani, 2019).

Tim Hortons provides a 10% discount to customers who use reusable cups and mugs. While

Starbucks introduced a recyclable straw-less lid in 2019 and plans to shift from single-use packaging to reusable packaging by 2030 (Starbucks, 2020).

McDonald’s has committed to sourcing 100% of its packaging from renewable, recycled, or certified sources by 2025, and to using recycled plastic in trays and toys. According to McDonald’s, customers “tell us that the environmental impact of our packaging and waste is their number one environmental concern for us to address” (McDonald's Corporate, 2017-2019).

By 2030, Coca-Cola plans to collect a can or bottle for each one sold but adds “we can’t do this alone and are actively working with our partners, stakeholders and customers to educate consumers to recycle their drink packaging properly.” (Forani, 2019).

To address the environmental issues caused by our throwaway society, there are several marketing implications. “Sustainability marketing is a large component of business efforts toward sustainability, and is defined as “… planning, organizing, implementing and controlling marketing resources and programmes to satisfy consumers’ wants and needs, while considering social and environmental criteria and meeting corporate objectives” (Belz and Peattie, 2009).

Sustainability or green marketing is needed to encourage greater use of reusable products and to provide recycling options. Providing incentives will be vital to mobilizing consumers to action, such as providing discounts on future purchases or cashbacks. Marketers must also lead corporate social responsibility efforts to educate consumers on product and packaging disposal; and play a role in generating awareness of the pollution crisis and its environmental impact.

Marketers must use technology and innovation to reduce the use of harmful packaging. For example, Just Eat, provided an option on their app for customers to opt out of receiving plastic cutlery and straws with their orders (Blair, 2018).

Finally, as marketers, we must ensure that environmental claims are genuine, and

be careful of greenwashing, to encourage more eco-friendly purchases, and ultimately protect the environment for future generations.

This article was written in March 2020.


Belz, F. & Peattie, K. (2009). Sustainability marketing: A global perspective. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons.

Blair, O. (2018, March 29). You can now have a takeaway free of single-use plastic. Retrieved from

Hortons, T. (2020, March 6). Tim Hortons® Announces Temporary Approach to Reusable Cups. Retrieved from

McDonald's Corporate, 2017-2019. Retrieved from

Melges, K. (2020, March 2). Plastic straws are just the tip of the iceberg. Retrieved from

Packaging and Recycling. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Starbucks, 2020. Retrieved from

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