When we in the Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) stepped up to expose the deceit behind the Massy plastic bag profiteering stunt, we knew then as we know now, that it was the right thing to do. Other political organisations would dare not touch issues such as these that could risk upsetting institutional donors, and in exchange for their blood money, leave them to do as they please.
For the first time in this country’s history corporate T&T is being made to answer, and they are answering.
The CEO of Massy Stores, Mr. Derek Winford, has responded to the overwhelming push-back by customers led by the PEP’s call to Massy to do better, a push back that has seen many of its biggest branches empty of shoppers. Mr. Winford is defending and escalating Massy’s commitment to the terrible execution of what should have been a great initiative, were it not for the hypocrisy of Massy’s own stance and the glaring profiteering opportunity that contradicts the very policy.
Listing charities that they otherwise support is a wash and a misdirection and i won’t touch that. Using possible tax write-offs for public relations shows how low you are prepared to go to defend this fiasco, but i will leave that alone.
Focusing on the issue, it always was and will continue to be Massy’s own mishandling of the plastics issue and their abuse of the environment. If as Massy claims, they put out thirty four million bags and ALL of those bags are filled to the brim with environment polluting bags, how does changing the bags alone solve the problem?
Winford himself admits that Massy overuses plastics in its stores, so why not start there so as to demonstrate your commitment to the initiative, which would have encouraged ‘buy in’ from a customer-base wary of all the chicanery and machinations of a rogue corporate/political class? The country’s deep distrust of the actions of the named 1% is their doing and not the public’s.
Massy could have ended the use of plastics for fruits and vegetables and bakery goods, and put their in-store lunches in fully compostable boxes the way El Pecos and others have done. They chose instead to penalise the shoppers for their own own carbon footprint because, let’s face it, the end line of this discussion begins to ask a question, if shopping in supermarkets are so harmful to the environment, why shop there at all?
Massy may well end up educating the population into returning to small shops, markets and small bakeries who do not pollute as badly as the supermarkets do.
But back to the bags. The real issues that challenges the honesty of the Massy initiative is the selling of the same polluting bags for profit. Regardless of your intentions, if you wanted to protect the environment, why not just stop carrying the plastic bags altogether, and have only your reusable bags on sale at the cash register? Why continue to pollute the environment regardless of what you do with the fifty cents? That is point of all this and the point that Winford fails to see. That it is not that customers, shoppers and citizens do not want to be environmentally conscious and act positively, it is just that they are tired of being played, and this stunt came across as a play, and no amount of defending that will change it.
For corporate Massy, Derek Winford and the rest still in self deluding seats we say again – If Massy is convinced that their plastic bags are fouling the environment, stop it. Stop providing them. TODAY! Not for fifty cents or a hundred dollars, just stop!
Make only reusable bags available at your cash registers and force the change in behaviour you say you want to force without using environment damaging plastics to do it. Yes it will probably come at a cost and eat into some of your profits, but if you really believe that this is the right thing to do, then do the right thing, and stop putting profits and Public Relations (PR) ahead of customers and the environment.
We in the Progressive Empowerment Party stand by our Policies that includes an Environmental Bill of Rights and a plastics packaging tax at the import and manufacture stages that could be returned and redeemed for refund, encouraging voluntary clean up of plastics that could be re-purposed and reused right here.
It is our position that corporate T&T has a responsibility to clean up after itself, and we call on the Chambers of Commerce and the Manufacturing Associations to join this very important conversation. In the meantime we continue to insist – Do better Massy.
Phillip Edward Alexander
Interim Political Leader
Progressive Empowerment Party