UK Supermarket Says No to Plastic Toys Attached to Magazines

Waitrose was inspired to action by a 10-year-old's anti-waste campaign.

Waitrose plastic toys
Waitrose will stop selling disposable plastic toys with magazines.


A child from Wales has prompted a major supermarket chain to take action on single-use plastics. U.K. retailer Waitrose has just announced that it will phase out the sale of magazines that come with cheap plastic toys attached over the next eight weeks.

Waitrose was inspired to action by a little girl named Skye, who got so fed up with all the "cheap plastic rubbish" accompanying her favorite publication, Horrible Histories, that she wrote to the publisher, asking it to stop. The letter turned into a campaign and a 3,000-name petition that has caught the attention of retailers around the country and has even been brought up in Parliament. 

Skye told the BBC that "many of the plastic toys were 'pointless', including a skeleton pen, which 'you can't even write with', a rubber tongue, brain, rats, maggots or slime that breaks." She went on to say, "I've got gazillions of fake teeth and rubber maggots... they're not good for playing a prank, they don't look real. I've had three pots of slime and it's rubbish, it breaks."

Waitrose is clearly attuned to the environmental concerns of the U.K.'s youth because it has not hesitated to act. Marija Rompani, director of ethics and sustainability, agreed that the plastic accompanying many magazines is excessive. She said in a press release, 

"Many in the younger generation really care about the planet and are the ones inheriting the problem of plastic pollution. We urge publishers to find alternatives, and other retailers to follow our lead in ending the pointless plastic that comes with children's magazines."

The retailer will continue to sell magazines with craft supplies like colored pencils and pens and toys meant for prolonged reuse, such as collectible items, but anything more disposable will be eliminated. It has notified publishers of the change, asking them to come up with alternatives, and warned them that any magazines that come after that time with such toys will not be sold. 

This is just another of several impressive steps that Waitrose has already taken to reduce plastic. It banned glitter in 2018, stopped selling Christmas crackers containing cheap disposable plastic toys and glitter, and has been redesigning its own-brand packaging to use more recycled and compostable content. This Easter 25% less packaging will be used overall across its own-brand chocolate eggs and other holiday confectionery.

It goes to show that a child on a mission should never be underestimated – and that, if adults aren't going to fix a problem, the kids will see to it.