For the last five years, Break Free From Plastic published its global brand audit reports identifying the top plastic polluting companies to hold them accountable for the climate and plastic pollution crises. After more than 200,000 volunteers collected more than 2,100,000 pieces of plastic on 2,373 brand audits over 87 different countries and territories, different youth leaders decided to take action to make their demands heard. On 15th November 2022, Break Free From Plastic launched the Global Day of Action, where brand audit participants and supporters – including youth – conducted in-person activities outside the top plastic polluting company’s offices. In this Member Stories post, we share how youth leaders from three BFFP partner organizations decided to take action: Zero Waste Durban, Kenyan Youth Biodiversity Network, and Nature’s Buddy.
Zero Waste Durban
On 19th November 2022, Zero Waste Durban hosted a day of interactive sessions as part of the Festival of Alternatives, an event by South African civil society. It served as a ‘Counter-COP’, with the objective to discuss real solutions to the climate crisis while also tackling false solutions and corporate greenwashing. Zero Waste Durban is a core member of Break Free From Plastic that decided to take action by having a full day of activities to support the release of the 5th Brand Audit Report. This included a screening of The Story of Plastic and a return to sender action to the world’s top plastic polluter for the 5th year in a row, Coca-Cola. There was also a ‘Trashiversary Party’ thrown for the top polluters with a reveal of a themed cake. According to Zero Waste Durban, the organization was created to fight the plastics crisis in Durban and to address FMCG companies like Coca-Cola that need to be held accountable and be more transparent with the amount of plastic that they are producing. FMCGs also need to commit to turn off the plastic tap and switch to reuse systems.
“We believe that youth engagement is critical in the fight for climate justice, as is pushing for corporate accountability and forcing these multinational companies to rethink their strategies and packaging systems towards refill and reuse.” says Taylen Reddy, founder of Zero Waste Durban and BFFP Youth Ambassador.
Kenyan Youth Biodiversity Network
The Kenyan Youth Biodiversity Network (KYBN) is a youth-led organization run by a team of 100% young people and provides strategic and safe spaces for youth involvement in national and international environmental policy review formulation, advocacy, and implementation of green projects that empower youth. On 18th November 2022, the Kenyan Youth Biodiversity Network developed in-person activities to hold accountable the top polluting company found in Kenyan Coast during brand audits: The Coca-Cola Company.
Prior to the event date, the Kenyan Youth Biodiversity Network produced a customized cake from a local cake house, carrying the message “Happy Trashiversary”. The organization also made customized reflector jackets for the team of volunteers who delivered the cake to the Coca-Cola Regional Offices.
On the day of the event, the team of volunteers gathered in a famous hotel in the center of Nairobi City. Each volunteer was tasked with bringing a few single-use Coca-Cola plastic bottles to the meeting point. At the hotel, the volunteers nicely wrapped the cake and the plastics in two separate boxes. Then, the team proceeded to the Coca-Cola Regional Offices on the afternoon of 18th November 2022 to successfully deliver the cake.
Generally, the organization was able to complete the event as expected. A few pictures were taken during the event and shared with the general public through social media, along with the results from the 2022 Global Brand Audit Report. Moreover, the organization was informed that the Vice President and General Manager, East and Central Africa Franchise at The Coca-Cola Company would respond to them in the future.
Nature’s Buddy is an organization working to protect the environment, wildlife, and bring socio-economic changes in the Himalayan region of India. They are a team of 12 core members and 300+ volunteers which are called Buddies across Uttarakhand. The goal of the organization is to work on environmental and socio-economic issues and communicate results, to be able to promote public education, awareness, and actions on environmental aspects and sustainable development.
PepsiCo is the top polluter brand of Himalayan mountains, followed by Haldiram’s, a snack company of India. These brand wastes were collected from river beds, waterfalls, small streams, forest, and green alpine meadows area. Most of their items were multilayer plastics (MLP) containing one layer of plastic as the main ingredient and another layer of aluminum which is unrecyclable. The youth volunteers of Nature's Buddy team have segregated, managed and self delivered the waste to the PepsiCo Headquarters in Gurgaon, India, and Haldiram’s headquarters in Noida, India after traveling 300 km distance during the Global Action Day. The other Nature’s Buddy team of youth volunteers organized a road show in different locations of the city to reveal the top polluter brands in public who are responsible for polluting the mountains of India.
To keep updated about the Brand Audit campaigns in South Africa, Kenya and India, follow Zero Waste Durban on Instagram and Facebook, Kenyan Youth Biodiversity Network on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and follow Natrure’s Buddy on Instagram and Facebook.
Young people aged from 15 to 24 represent 16% percent of global population, and are dealing with a plastics crisis that they did not create. To learn more about how the youth are taking action towards lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis, check the BFFP Youth page.
Break Free From Plastic Youth and BFFP Plastic-free Campuses is supported by: