A few weeks ago, Greenpeace sent me a mailer because I had previously made a donation. However, the envelope came with a plastic window. And Greenpeace is the organisation that I least expected to do this.
I called Greenpeace asking about the envelope I received. The person I talked to on the phone admitted that it was plastic. He said that Greenpeace have been looking into a different kind of material to replace it. But so far, they haven’t been able to find a material that the machine can easily read the addresses through. I suggested handwriting the addresses, but he stated that there were too many envelopes being sent out and that the scale was too large.
But that little plastic window made me feel so betrayed. I try to reduce single-use plastic in my personal life. Seeing Greenpeace’s own use of single-use plastic, and the possibility that my donated money has gone towards creating the plastic that I’m actively avoiding, makes me feel frustrated. Now I have their plastic waste on my hands. I would much rather my money go towards handwriting addresses. Receiving physical mail also does not make me more likely to read content than if I were receiving that same content as a digital mailer. It would be even better if such waste was not generated in the first place.
The person I talked to on the phone also stated that the wider scope of what Greenpeace is doing is more important, therefore suggesting that a plastic window is a very small issue in the great scheme of things. This argument was a letdown to me since our world is polluted with plastic exactly because little things lead to big things. There are not billions of plastic bags in our landfills because one single person decided to throw away those billions. It’s because one person threw one bag away, and then another person did the same, and another, and another, all the way up to the billions and more. By itself, one single case seems small. But when you start counting, it becomes something unrelenting and overwhelming. If we don’t settle for reducing the small thing, then the small thing can easily contribute to a greater negative impact.
On the phone, I also suggested that such an approach from Greenpeace is a hypocritical act that has lowered my trust in them. One of the campaigns in the mailer involves reducing single-use plastic. How can I think they’re really serious if they happily send away envelopes with plastic windows? My person on the phone stated that although such an action does seem hypocritical, it’s similar to how we protest against mining oil but still drive cars.
Still, in their mailer, Greenpeace states that one of their aims is to “hold plastic producers to account, until they can no longer produce single-use plastics with impunity”. So Greenpeace, I am holding you accountable.