30 Jul 2019

Fake Plastic Oranges

Posted in: Household action

Fake plastic oranges

Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love Bin Inn

A guest article by Jay Crangle from Sustainable Business Council.

“This!” I cried to my friend. “This is what I am talking about! This represents everything that is wrong with the world!” Other shopers turned to look as I held a large plastic orange aloft in the manner of Rafiki with Simba in The Lion King (‘94 version of course).

“We are running out of time to address climate change.” I continued to rant as my friend backed away, fear in her eyes. “There won’t be enough land to grow regular fruit soon, or the right weather, yet here we are selling plastic ones. Honestly, we’re doomed!”

I think she nodded in agreement. It was hard to tell as she scuttled out the store exit.

I try to live with as low an impact as possible as a vegetarian, bus taking, op shopper who lives in a tiny house (the latter may be due to house prices in Auckland, but I’ll take it...). So giving up all single use plastics for Plastic Free July was not a huge change for me. I’ve got my KeepCup and my metal water bottle, and we’ve been taking our own bags to the supermarket for ages.

Although I have now graduated from a friendly wave to my Bin Inn counter friends to knowing about their cousin’s wife’s 2 year old son and how he refuses to eat any fruit and veg (perhaps he should try plastic oranges..?).


But the experience has unleashed my inner orator, that up till now I had reserved for President Trump after 2 glasses of pinot noir. And while we all deserve a “save the planet” rant now and then, I am at risk of going in the exact opposite direction to Dale Carnegie’s advice – losing friends and influencing people.

So this month, I’ve been reflecting on how we take people on the journey of sustainability. At the Sustainable Business Council, we take a ‘name and fame’ approach to celebrating members doing good work in sustainability. This creates a positive culture where business can learn from one another, and may also be how I should tackle my plastic reduction campaign.

It’s not helpful to give my friends a raised eyebrow when I see them still buying sushi in plastic containers. Or ranting about plastic fruit in department stores. What’s more helpful is demonstrating different ways of living. Making banana and chocolate chip muffins for your mates with bulk bin ingredients, for instance, will demonstrate that lowering your plastic impact can have delicious side benefits. I’m also pleased I can do something tangible when I understand the positive consequences.

Homemade muffin

From a professional point of view I am new to sustainability. Like Joey in FRIENDS, I frequently find myself just nodding along at work as we discuss the ‘pollution haven’ hypothesis and its potential to shift emissions-intensive production offshore toward countries with low abatement costs (…).

I quite often find myself awash in a sea of technical language. So my message to anyone else who doesn’t understand the technical stuff is: keep calm and eat muffins.

And also: phone a friend. My SBC and Enviro-Mark Solutions friends are often my first port of call when I want to know the ins and outs of the more complex elements of sustainable business practices.

Going plastic free still means every now and then I have a mini crisis over the fact that even my bulk goods come from plastic – it’s just that I can’t see the containers. That’s why I love brands who go out of their way to remove plastics entirely from their range.

It’s also got me thinking about the issue of microplastics in our clothing. But that’s a topic for another blog (possible titled ‘Plastic undies - or how I learned to stop worry and love Bendon’).

For now, I can’t not eat, and wearing hemp sacks does nothing for my figure, so I’ll just have to do what I can.

The one thing I have missed the most this past month though? Mallowpuffs.


“You’ve done enough for a homemade shortbread that’s slightly burnt around the edges because you got distracted watching Big Little Lies” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “doing enough for a Mallowpuff.” And I think it’s ok to miss my Mallowpuffs. As much as it is ok to do what you can, and to support others newer to this sustainability game.

And it’s ok to remember you’re much more likely to win people over with muffins than public, anti-plastic orange sentiment.