Customers in the UK have noticed new expiration stickers cropping up on their food and drink purchases, and not the kind you would expect: These stickers show the date that the plastic packaging will finally decompose, with soda bottles, snack containers and pre-packaged meals sporting stickers that read "Expiration Date: 10/01/2499".

While many of us can rattle off a few facts or statistics about pollution and littering, visualizing the date of the packaging's decomposition, nearly 500 years in the future, really hits home at the permanence of this waste.

Via Twitter / @sammy_bachoo

Two entrepreneurs in the advertising industry are behind this campaign to flag the impact of plastic purchases to UK consumers. Joe Foale-Groves and Gagandeep Jhuti teamed up to create the Plastic Expiry Date stickers. While most of us will grab a drink, a pre-made salad or snack from the grocery store during the course of our day, this new UK campaign may cause consumers to reconsider their purchase and choose a more eco-friendly option.

In an interview with the Manchester Evening News, Foale-Groves and Jhuti explained, "Imagine this. It’s the year 3019. You are no longer around. But the plastic water bottle you bought with your meal deal in 2020 has finally started to decompose. It is true that your meal deal could be pretty much immortal."

"The ultimate goal would be for supermarkets to add the Plastic Expiry Date to packaging themselves, as well as hurrying to remove single-use plastic packaging from their shelves."

At a time where many of us are eating plant-based for the environment, we can't overlook the damage that the pollution and overproduction of plastic packaging cause to our ecosystems. Here are some tips to help you avoid single-use plastics:

  • Invest in a reusable water bottle
  • Opt for reusable grocery totes instead of plastic bags
  • Pack your lunch in reusable glass containers
  • Take your own reusable utensils and straws when you dine out
  • Choose cans over plastic bottles