Stikeez are back and kids (and parents) all over South Africa are showing excitement and opening wallets at Pick n Pay once again to collect all 24 plastic figurines, and the theme this time is Creatures of the Deep. But that’s not all. Pick n Pay went all out; parents can also pick up a Submarine Collector’s Album (R50), a range of plush toys (R99) and download the app with a new mobile game.
While young and old are in the middle of the Stikeez 2 frenzy and already planning for the first Swop Day on Saturday, concerned South Africans and environmental organisations are not showing the same level of excitement.
Creatures of the Deep (Stikeez 2) is not fun everyone, especially not for the real creatures of the deep. Our marine life battles with plastic pollution and it is quite difficult to see how extra, unnecessary plastic, can be a good idea.
There is nothing new in the concerns raised about Stikeez 2, the plastic figurines of 2015 had the same reaction.
Rhian Berning, the founder of Eco Atlas, addressed the issue in an open letter to Pick n Pay last year and encouraged the retailer to rather give away educational collectable cards and that children will still get the same joy out of swopping, trading and collecting cards than collecting a piece of plastic. Plus, they will get an opportunity to learn.
Judging from the Super Animals marketing campaign from a few months ago, Pick n Pay took the open letter to heart.
But unfortunately it only lasted for a short while.
How did Pick n Pay take such a huge step backwards? After all the talk and the outrage did they just decide to completely bin the negative environmental impact of their Stikeez promotion?
Come on Pick n Pay, SEA-riously?
I’m no saint when it comes to living 100% eco-friendly. And I strive to be better at it, but I’ve learnt that thinking twice before I purchase, use or throw something away has made a tiny impact in my contribution to the amount of plastic with my name on it. And there is a ripple effect to it. People notice things and adapt the same practices.
But it goes the other way too – you throw something on the street, other people (especially children) do it as well. Monkey see, monkey do.
I’ve said this over and over again and must probably sound like a broken record, but even something as small as a straw can have an impact. Do we really need an extension from our mouth to our glass? Are we that lazy that we can’t lift a glass?
Are we really that lazy that we can’t pick up the trash of someone else when we see it?
What about all those cigarette butts? Cigarette filters are made from plastic fibres and after you had your puff the toxic aroma of nicotine and tar still lingers around and contrary to popular throwing-butts-on-the-street-practices, those creatures in the deep are not chain smokers.
Two Oceans Aquarium released a statement yesterday and said “Given that fads come and go, it follows that the latest Stikeez will inevitably be marginalised by most collectors and end up as waste in landfills and the environment at large”.
Two Oceans Aquarium walk their talk and said that as an organisation that takes its environmental responsibility seriously with the vision of “Abundant and Healthy Oceans for Life” and a mission “To Inspire Action for the Future Well-being of our Oceans”, they simply can’t endorse the Stikeez campaign in any way and encouraged the public to address their concerns directly to Pick n Pay.
But what difference will one tiny 2 cm plastic figurine make, right?
The World Economic Forum (WEF) released research in January 2016 that at least 8 million tonnes of plastics mistakenly end up in the sea – that comes down to one garbage truck into the ocean every minute.
Two Oceans Aquarium believes in educating their visitors and with the plastic pollution research and statistics gathered by the organisation the numbers are shocking to say the least:
- 80% of the pollution in the ocean originates on land.
- 700 marine species are threatened by ocean plastics.
- 90% of sea birds have ingested plastic.
- 270 000 tonnes of plastic trash are floating on the surface of the ocean.
- It takes 450 years for one plastic bottle to degrade.
- A third of all plastic is used only for one time.
What is around this seal’s neck?
A sticky note to parents about Stikeez
I am not a parent and yes, there are a lot of things that I don’t understand when it comes to children, their wants, needs and tantrums, I know that. But what I do know – and you know it too – is that the unnecessary plastic created to feed the Stickeez craze and to feast on your wallet runs deeper than Creatures of the Deep.
Teach your kid the importance of not adding to the world’s surplus of plastic. Go out in nature. Show them the impact of plastic. Let them collect rocks and autumn leaves. Let them climb a tree or visit Penguin Rehabilitation Centres like SAMREC, APSS or SANCCOB. Take them to Two Oceans Aquarium and make it an educational viewing. Talk to them about the future of our oceans, the future of the place where 3 billion people’s protein come from. As a parent it is your responsibility. Own it.
The question is not what difference one tiny 2 cm plastic figurine will make, the question is, what difference will you make?
(And by you, I mean you! It is an inclusive “you”, it is parents, friends, aunties, uncles, children, family, everyone).