Battle of the Bottle
October 30, 2018

Delivering a message in front of Nestle USA headquarters!
See all our pictures here: SMUGMUG

Members of FACC and Friends of Little Hunting Creek met on December 17, 2018, with three Nestlé representatives at their Rosslyn headquarters. Our argument was essentially that all the good-intentioned Nestlé environmental initiatives don't get the trash out of our streams. The Nestlé people were cordial and sympathetic. They have been addressing plastic trash as an issue at their global level. Some interesting points they made were:

  • Nestlé USA will no longer oppose bottle deposit bills.
  • There is serious discussion within the IBWA of changing their position on bottle deposits.
  • Recycle logos on all Nestlé packaging are being made much larger and more useful.
Letter presented to Nestlé
Meeting memo

The day before Halloween, October 30 2018, the NOVA Trash Action Work Force (TAWF) force descended on the headquarters of Nestle USA, in Rosslyn, Va, to raise awareness about the plastic trash that is polluting our communities, streams and world. We have been leading actions in the area since 2016, and we keep getting better!

It really doesn't take much to do a protest action, all you have to do is show up somewhere with a sign. But the process of coming together as a group to make a plan and communicate a message is more challenging. We created TAWF because we were tired of cleaning up the trash in our streams created by the bottled water industry, and we wanted them to take responsibility.

Much of the energy around single use plastics is focused on personal choice and responsibility, like the recent plastic-free challenges, which we support. But we also feel strongly that the corporations and organizations that are profiting from this plastic pollution need to be held accountable. We bring the trash from our streams back to those who made it, and say, "We're sick of cleaning up your messes! You need to do more to solve this problem!".

We are committed to leading actions that are peaceful, legal, and enjoyable. We may be angry environmentalists, but our actions are fun! This time we had a dancing mad clown in a tattered plastic dress playing a tambourine, a skeleton marionette calling for bottle deposits, a plastic Potomac princess wearing a net adorned with Nestle bottles. Even on Halloween eve, many passersby were startled! Some just kept going, some wanted to know more, some affirmed their support. We passed out hundreds of our flyers on the problems with single-use plastics (SUPs). We also delivered a petition request to a Nestle representative, invoicing them for our time spent cleaning up Nestle trash.

Our actions are learning opportunities for us, there's always lots of room for improvement. And sometimes it's frustrating that we're not reaching more people, that more people aren't joining us. But it took us a long time to come together as a team and start doing something, after years of being disgusted and frustrated about all the trash we kept finding in the natural places that we love. And it feels so much better to be out there for an hour doing something about it, marching with friends with funny costumes and provocative signs and creative props and American flags! So we're going to keep marching. We're stronger together!

Some comments and observations from participants:

  • The kids get it, one young man came up and said, 'Yah, Nestle sucks!' as he took a flyer.
  • Young people seemed more receptive, especially the younger men this time. One of them told me, "I never use plastic, I only eat off bamboo".
  • I did survey the trash cans for our flyers, and we weren't in any of them.
  • Something is working, we're not pushing a very heavy mountain.
  • All in all this was a successful one.
  • If Nestle follows up, then we'll go to talk to Nestle
  • An awful lot of people were wearing earbuds and couldn't hear us.
  • It was fun and we were helping to educate people.
  • Our brochure was a class product that impressed people once they looked at it.
  • I thought it was a success.
  • I was quite conflicted about going, I wasn't sure given current events that spending time on plastic was the right thing to do, but in the end I thought it was time well spent.
  • A lot of the people I talked with already knew about the horrors of plastic trash. But when I said, here's some tips about what we can do, and gave them the flyer, that got their interest.
  • It wasn't as entertaining as the ones in the past.
  • I thought it was great, we talked to a lot of people, we surprised people, got them out of their comfort zone a bit, which I think is good.
  • A lot of people thanked me for doing it which I thought was great.
  • Half the people I did a quick pitch on, saying, "We're trying to encourage people to use reusables, would you like to learn more?", stopped and took a flyer.
  • People were intrigued by why we were there, and when I told them, many shook their heads in agreement and got excited - there was a positive feeling overall.
  • I thought people were receptive, but they also seemed pretty busy, they were on a mission to get to their destination.
  • I got a lot of smiles and nods, and people showing their own water bottle.
  • When I told them that we were protesting Nestle, and that this was their headquarters, the looks on their faces, they looked like they were disgusted!
  • One thing I thought about was the messaging, we needed less words on our signs, a lot of people wouldn't stop to read the whole sign.

See all the photos on SmugMug

Please share and tweet the pictures using #trashdayofaction! Anything you can do to help us get out the message of responsibility is much appreciated!

Who needs to hear that message?

  • Manufacturers, who must accept product end-of-life responsibility
  • Retailers and restaurants, who supply their customers with plastic items that immediately become waste.
  • Legislators, who must consider bottle deposit bills and other limits on plastic waste
  • And every one of us who ever makes the decision to use and dispose of plastic
Get ready now for the next Trash Day of Action in the spring of 2019!

Thanks to all who showed up and marched with us!




MAP - Nestle USA location

Tweet with us!