Plastic (not so) fantastic

Forgive me for saying this, but unless you’ve just crawled out of the ocean, you’ll already be well aware that single use plastics are bad for the environment. (Speaking of which, Greenpeace claims that the equivalent of one truckload of plastic is dumped into the seas every single minute).

But while the last couple of decades have seen widespread calls to curb our reliance on plastic, it seems that the tide simply isn’t turning. In fact, in the wake of Covid-19, the world is now also facing a worsening plastic pandemic.

As the number of Coronavirus cases grew, so did the demand for face shields, disposable gloves and takeaway food containers. And as we stayed home to saves lives, the seismic shift to online shopping meant retailers got through more bubble wrap, shrinkwrap and other packaging materials than ever.

But of course, you can’t just blame the pandemic. Way before most of the world had heard of Wuhan, the planet had long been struggling to cope with its plastics problem.

And perhaps (unsurprisingly) many of the world’s biggest brands – the likes of Coke, Pepsi, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Unilever, Nestlé, and Procter & Gamble – are also the biggest culprits when it comes to generating plastic waste.

In an attempt to lessen their impact, these companies have set themselves voluntary targets to increase the amount of recycled plastic in their products – targets they have largely failed to meet.

This might not seem such a revelation when you learn that, according to a 2017 article by the journal Science, of the 6.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste generated since 1950, a staggering 91% has never been recycled.

However, to quote Greenpeace, “Recycling alone is simply never going to solve this problem”. Therefore, we as individuals need to do all we can to tackle the issue.

Here in the UK, we use 7.7 billion plastic water bottles each year. But if everyone of us started using refillable bottles and drinking tap water, imagine the savings that could be made, in terms of environmental and financial cost.

And while perceptions of the purity of tap water vary widely across the world, products such as the Vital Capsule System (which we’re currently developing a campaign for with longstanding client Franke), can ensure that water from the tap is just as safe and great tasting as bottled.

But as well vetoing plastic bottles, there are lots of other ways we can each play our part in the war on plastic. Start by saying no to plastic coffee lids, plastic bags, plastic cutlery and plastic takeaway containers. As well as a reusable water bottle, invest in a reusable mug for your hot drink of choice.

Avoid excessively packaged items and buy fruit and vegetables loose. Equally, switch to stores that allow you to decant products into your own containers and jars.

At home, little changes like buying bamboo toothbrushes or milk in glass bottles can all help to make a difference. And while you’re out and about, picking up plastic litter and disposing of it properly will help prevent plastic having a harmful effect on wildlife and nature.

When you consider that it takes a single plastic bottle up to 450 years to decompose, it becomes brutally obvious that this is an issue that isn’t going away anytime soon. However, it’s clear that just a few small changes to our behaviour could go a long way to making plastic somewhat less of a problem.


My thoughts: experiencing the magic as a first-year student

Joining the agency for a month of work experience, undergraduate Rocco Rivlin shares his thoughts on his time spent with us at One Brand Magic.

Taking the opportunity 

The opportunity at One Brand Magic resulted from a presentation the agency gave at Manchester Metropolitan University. I’m a first-year business and marketing student there, with a lot of ambition and interest in the industry – but still trying to find where I best fit. 

I jumped at the chance to see the presentation and learn more from the team at OBM. It was a hugely helpful experience to me, and when I saw a contact email at the end of the session, I was keen to explore the possibility of working with such a well-known creative agency.

To my delight they were very happy to take me on, and I soon found myself working two days a week for a month.

Gaining insight

I went into my first day unsure of what to expect from the experience – fortunately, I was quickly put at ease in my induction.

My time at OBM allowed me to attend insightful meetings with the social, PR and creative departments. I was also lucky enough to sit in on a company-wide presentation where I met more of the team and picked up key industry knowledge such as how to implement reactive PR, and how to best deal with journalists! The team’s enthusiasm was infectious and motivating – this was encapsulated by Cam Deegan, who handled my experience.

Not only did Cam pass on a wealth of information about the non-stop world of client services, but he was also always at hand with task feedback and general advice.

Cam was incredibly supportive and made me feel that the team cared about my personal development within the industry. Having the opportunity to work on such a wide variety of tasks for different clients and departments was critical in helping me gain a rounded understanding of the profession, and in massively progressing my skill set.

Whether it was industry reviews, community audits or research work for the OBM ‘HIT’ (Hints, Insights and Tips newsletter), I really enjoyed tackling new challenges and advancing my own awareness of the field.

Looking to the future

On my last day I was able to spend time with CEO, Graeme Wood. This was the cherry on top of an already brilliant experience and to get Graeme’s worldly advice was a privilege I won’t soon forget.

I’m deeply appreciative of the time spent working at OBM and would like to thank the whole team for making it so impactful. I’m motivated to succeed in business and am delighted to have the initial OBM agency experience under my belt for the future.