The U.K. appears to have a new passion: Ending the use of plastic. Two little girls, Ella age nine and Caitlin age seven, began a petition asking McDonald's and Burger King to stop providing plastic toys with their kid's meals. They, in a pretty short time, secured half-a-million signatures and an agreement from Burger King to stop giving away plastic toys.
What's behind the movement? Children are frightened about global warming and polluted oceans because they are going to have to live in the future world about which they hear and read. Here are just three of many headlines about how children are reacting:
Based upon headlines like these, it appears that Burger King is wisely sympathetic to the angst children are feeling. How is McDonald's reacting? Pretty lamely if you want to know the truth.
In select stores, a child can choose to exchange their Happy Meal toy for a piece of fruit. Sure, a child is going to exchange a toy for fruit…right, that's going to happen.
It's easy to understand why McDonald's is being cautious. Happy Meals are a major piece of business for McDonald's and its suppliers. But McDonald's response to the petition evidences a failure to understand the very children they service.
Here is what I think:
The clock is ticking. The plastics industry cannot wait to come up with a substitute for resin-based plastics. They have to do something now.
In the meantime, smart toy companies should get behind kids efforts and support programs that are working to reduce greenhouse emissions. It's good for the children who play with our toys and its the right thing for the world in which we live.
The U.K. anti-plastic movement is but one part of a growing concern among young people that adults are not doing enough about plastic in the oceans and global warming. Will the movement spread to the United States? You bet it will.