As someone with the favorite color of green- it’s hard to not recognize where that love comes from. The rolling hills of grass pastures. The view of an endless sea of pine trees. And the overall sign of health and prosperity for flowers, trees, and your grandmother’s favorite tomato plant. How is green such a loved color- and yet the mass is turning a blind eye to this color as it slowly fades from the world.

Pollutants have infected our earth with the illness of plastics that cannot be treated without mass support. Overall, packaging is the biggest contributor, according to National Geographic; as of 2018, an estimated 40% of plastic waste was packaging. A lot of this waste goes into our oceans, roughly 18 billion pounds a plastic each year. These pieces of plastic are killing animals in plain sight, through suffocation, ingestion, and invasion, while the other pieces are killing in silence. Micro-plastics may be small, but have a much larger effect than we know.

Micro-plastics have gained attention within the last few years, as studies show their environmental effects. Terrestrial microplastic pollution is entering the food chain, one micrometer piece at a time. Often, these pieces are found in sewage, and are distributed as sewage is used for fertilizer. As thousands of microplastics end up in our soil, some of these plastics release chemicals depending on how they were manufactured. These chemicals are soaked up by the soil and surrounding water sources that are unknowingly ingested by wild life. Following the food chain, these microplastics will eventually be ingested by the human population. A study as recent as 2022, published in Environment International, found microplastics not only in the stomach, but directly in the human bloodstream of 17 out of 22 participants. Personally, I find that terrifying. Plastic pollution is no longer an external issue, but an internal issue as well.

While these new effects are being observed, the goal should be to stop plastic pollution at its source. According to the EPA, an estimated 14.5 million tons of plastics were generated in 2018. Our World in Data states that by 2015, the world had consumed over 381 million tons of plastic since its mass production in the 1950’s. How much of that plastic do you think is circulating in your body right now? How about your dog, or the squirrel resting on your porch, or the fish that you ate for dinner? My guess is more than you think.

Plastic waste begins where it is manufactured, large and small companies have the power to determine what kind of future they want. Environmentally friendly packaging would be a huge step in the direction of breaking this plastic encapsulated cycle. As technology advances, biodegradable packing will give back to its natural resources, rather than completely depleting it, “reducing solid waste, water usage, electricity, and emissions” (Industrial Packaging)”. It would be free of harmful toxins, and allow consumers to look through a green lens, as well as other companies. We all need to look through this green lens soon, because in the future, there may not be any green to look at.

Works Cited:

“5 Reasons More Brands Are Shifting to Sustainable Packaging.” Managed Packaging by BillerudKorsnäs

Magazine, Smithsonian. “Microplastics Detected in Human Blood in New Study.”, Smithsonian Institution, 28 Mar. 2022

“Roberge, David. “6 Key Benefits of Sustainable Packaging.”

Parker, Laura. “Fast Facts about Plastic Pollution.” Science, National Geographic, 4 May 2021

“Plastic Planet: How Tiny Plastic Particles Are Polluting Our Soil.” UNEP

Ritchie, Hannah, and Max Roser. “Plastic Pollution.” Our World in Data, 1 Sept. 2018

Roberge, David. “6 Key Benefits of Sustainable Packaging.”

Essay by: Kathleen Kennerly
Appalachian State University

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