Single-use plastic: an open letter to Wimbledon

Capital Content Gary Gumbleton's letter to the tournament's leaders on Evian's green failure

Dear Wimbledon leadership team,

I’m sorry to say my love affair with your Championship has come to an end. And the reason is the sheer amount of single-use plastic bottles on show. To explain why I’m so upset: in 2008 I moved from the UK to New Zealand, which is the furthest anyone could move away from home. After a few years I became incredibly homesick, until one winter I put on the TV and saw it was mid-match in the 2nd round of Wimbledon.

Hearing sounds of the tournament, phrases like ‘Quiet please’, or even the ball hitting the racket for some weird reason, acted like a warm English blanket and gave me comfort during one of the loneliest periods of my life. After that I religiously watched the tournament, year on year. I’d even take annual leave to stay home and watch the matches. For someone who’s not sporty, this was a big thing for me.

Fast forward to 2022: I’ve moved back home with my family and the world has changed. We’re now at the apex of the green agenda, with Sir David Attenborough saying we’re the last generation able to perhaps do something about what’s been done. And yet I look at those that run The Wimbledon Championships and your sponsors, and see that nobody has — for whatever reason — put their hand up and changed the narrative when it comes to what we see on court. Namely, single-use plastic bottles.

I am shocked that, in this day and age, you can’t see the opportunity to lead from the front

Did no one whisper in the ear of the Partnership Manager and say ‘Maybe we should have a reusable bottle on court…at least?’ And yes, I get it. It’s easy for me to sit here as a ‘keyboard warrior’ and call out brands and organisations for their behaviour (or lack thereof), but there are so many things that both Evian and yourself could’ve done to address what the obvious. For example:

  • Co-brand a reusable bottle for players on court (great for TV)
  • Donate those funds to carbon offsetting 
  • Increase awareness of the Evian event carbon neutrality (one post on social is not enough)
  • Explain your future plans around single-use plastic during the tournament 

Fundamentally, you need to lead and force the brand you partner with to keep to the green agenda. The public can make small changes for the greater good — but to see global brands and organisations like yourselves and Evian make significant changes that support the green agenda is how the world makes a real change.

Leaders of Wimbledon, you’re not entirely to blame: the players have a duty of care as well

They are just as influential as major brands, and not one of them decided to take a stand. They’re all happy to wear and advertise their own clothing lines, but I definitely did not see a branded, reusable water bottle. Or any reusable bottle, for that matter.

Remember when Cristiano Ronaldo moved Coke bottles away during a press conference and said ‘I don’t drink Coke, I drink water.’ This sort of thing should have happened at your tournament. It just takes one person or organisation to put their hand up, in order for change to take place.

We can only hope that next year you realise your influence, and the impact it can have not just at the event itself but globally, because we’re running out of time.

Regards,

Loyal but embarrassed fan

Gary Gumbleton

While my previous career was in corporate sales, I was always a creative at heart and I consider content creation to be my calling. I’ve worked with Uber, Mercedes and Pepsi and specialise in using my global sales experience and passion for content to help organisations grow. I am currently Founder and Creative Director at Capital Content.

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