On Tuesday night, as shoppers filled their baskets in The Brunswick Shopping Centre Waitrose, a voice boomed forth from the middle of the store declaring love for the supermarket giant, but disappointment in the chain’s relationship with oil giant Shell. The declaration came from Climate Rush activists who were seated on the floor in the store’s oil aisle, to protest and demand change.
Surrounded by photographers, Waitrose security guards and, eventually, police officers, the group read an ‘intervention’ letter to the store’s manager. Asking for Waitrose to ‘break up with Shell,’ the activists were told to take up their concerns with Waitrose’s press office. Asked to leave multiple times, they eventually acquiesced peacefully, chanting ‘don’t break us up, break up with Shell’ as they were escorted outside, where they lingered to hand out flyers.
Waitrose recently opened two trial stores in Shell petrol stations, first revealed in a recent Ecologist article, which inspired Climate Rush’s campaign. On February 24th, the group staged a protest outside the same Russell Square store, in which member Anne Schulthess, wearing a white shell-shaped dress, was doused in an oil-like concoction.
‘I think people who are actually concerned about the environment and human rights shop at Waitrose for a reason, and then we find out they’re working with one of the most unethical companies on the planet,’ Schulthess told the Ecologist at the time. ‘I think it’s just a travesty and it has to be brought to the light.’
Friends of the Earth named Shell as the world’s most carbon intensive company in a 2009 report, because of the company’s oil operations in the Niger Delta, and large investments in Canadian tar sands. A Shell spokesperson has said they take their ethical commitments very seriously.
For those looking to join the campaign, Climate Rush is urging concerned Waitrose shoppers to tweet ‘messages of support’ to the supermarket, asking the chain to dump Shell. Also look for upcoming events on the group’s website.
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