Schoolboy launches boycott of McDonald’s Happy Meals plastic toys

Schoolboy, seven, launches boycott of McDonald’s Happy Meals plastic toys to save ‘the beautiful fish in the beautiful sea’

  • William Weir decided to act after his mother told him about ocean pollution
  • Wrote a letter to McDonald’s which he read to 170 fellow pupils at assembly
  • US fast food giant then invited William and sister, four, to a feedback group
  • 1.2billion Happy Meals sold each year and each of them come with plastic toy

A seven-year-old schoolboy has launched a boycott of the plastic toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals to help save ‘the beautiful fish in the beautiful sea’ – and some of his classmates are already rallying to the cause.

William Weir, from Rugby, Warwickshire, told his mother Carrie, 41, he wanted to write to the US food giant after she told him how bad the toys were for the planet.

After mentioning his pledge to teachers and friends at Dunchurch Infant School, William was invited to read his letter to 170 pupils during assembly.

William Weir, from Rugby, Warwickshire, (left, in a recent undated photo) told his mother Carrie, 41, he wanted to write a letter (right) to the US food giant after she told him how bad the toys were for the planet

An undated photo of a Happy Meal with its accompanying plastic toy. A total of 1.2billion Happy Meals (inset) are sold across the world every year – meaning there are more plastic toys in the world than the population of humans, which stood at 7.53 billion in 2017

The youngster’s articulate and thoughtful comments prompted McDonald’s to invite him and his sister Francesca, four, to a feedback group to get their thoughts on the restaurant chain’s environmental impact.

Mrs Weir and her husband Neil, 49, filmed a heart-warming video of their son explaining why he wrote the letter.

The family are calling on others to join them in taking a stand against the toys, which they believe are just ‘plastic rubbish’ and usually go unused by most children.

Mrs Weir said: ‘He sat at the table to write it. I helped him construct it but it is all his writing and all his thoughts.

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‘I said I would send it to McDonald’s and share it on some sites online to see if it made any difference.

‘He was quite excited about this and went into school to tell everyone about it. Everyone thought it was really good, even the teachers.

‘I asked him if anyone asked him why he feels this way, what he would say. He said “well I am seven and I would like to live until I’m 57 and have children. And I would like for there to still be a planet for those children”.’

The youngster’s articulate and thoughtful comments prompted McDonald’s to invite him and his sister Francesca, four, to a feedback group. Undated photo of the siblings together

Mrs Weir said other parents at William’s school had started to ask not to have the toys after hearing about his letter.

‘I think if lots of children did what William and Francesca are doing then McDonald’s would get rid of the plastic in the Happy Meals,’ she said. 

‘That is how things change these days. Things change because of public perception.’ 

Happy Meals had previously been William and Francesca’s go-to choice at McDonald’s but last week Mrs Weir noticed their plastic toys remained untouched.

William’s letter to McDonald’s  

Dear McDonalds, 

 I am 7. I also like Happy Meals. I am concerned with the impact plastic has on the planet, therefore I would like you to rethink the Happy Meal toys. 

My sister and I will not be eating Happy Meals that include plastic toys any more. 

Thank you, 

William Weir 

And Francesca Weir (aged 4) 

So she decided to explain how damaging the toys are for the environment and suggested they no longer buy them if they didn’t want to play with them.

Mrs Weir believes children only like the idea of the toys and in reality wouldn’t miss them if they were no longer included, or were not made from plastic.

‘The toys often don’t work,’ she said. ‘The kids might look at them for 30 seconds but that would be it.

‘Kids only like the idea of them, but then they realise they are plastic rubbish and they don’t matter. There is not any use or value to them at all.

‘McDonald’s could choose to say that if you choose not to have the toy, then 50p from every Happy Meal you buy without the toy will go towards cleaning up the oceans.’

Ian Dewes, executive headteacher at Dunchurch Infant School and Nursery, was so impressed by the way William spoke to the school that he believes he could have a future as a politician.

‘William came in with his letter and explained, very articulately considering his age, what he’d written and the reasons behind it,’ he said. ‘Clearly he’s very well-informed about environmental matters.

‘I spoke to William and asked him if he would like to speak to the children in assembly about it.

‘Speaking in assembly itself is a fairly daunting thing to do in front of 170 children, but he was very happy to do that. It was quite statesman-like really – he’s perhaps a budding politician.’

William is pictured with his father, Neil, mother, Carrie, and sister Francesca, on a family holiday in Paris. Photo undated 

A McDonald’s spokesperson said: ‘We really appreciate William and Francesca getting in contact.

‘We would like to assure them that the reduction and use of plastics is a hugely important issue for our business.

‘We are committed to reducing our environmental impact and we can, and want to, be part of the solution – for example with our move from recyclable plastic straws to paper ones.

‘Happy Meal toys provide fun for children and families playing in our restaurants, but also provide many more fun filled hours at home for a long time too.’ 

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