Accepting an inevitable truth is innately against our immediate survival instincts as humans. It has been difficult for the world to realize that we need to make serious changes on individual and global scales in order for our planet to bounce back from the pollution and waste we have already filled it with. But with a strong demand from the consumer, we can start to see companies adapting to greener practices, including switching to sustainable packaging. However, if we do not push for our government to create policies that progress us towards a greener future, we will not see change as quickly as the earth needs. There are specific progressions we can make in our productions systems and education practices that can perpetuate the vision of a greener future.
In America, our key economic and political expression is capitalism. While this serves our nation in tremendous ways, it does not have a place when it comes to the health and well being of our planet. A recent study showed that only 100 companies were found responsible for 71% of the entire world’s fossil fuel emissions (www.theguardian.com). Many companies are taking the initiative to decrease their carbon footprint, including those in the RE100 initiative, but the only way we can speak directly to these companies is monetarily. There must be higher tax credits and incentives given to corporations who adapt to green packaging, and a stronger government intervention to encourage and subsidize the costly transition of practices. This will hopefully translate into accessibility for all individuals, not just those who can afford the current surcharge of sustainable packaging. We need to take responsibility as a society and intervene publicly so that change can happen on a massive scale.
Education is a huge factor when it comes to knowing who and what your money is going towards. While there has been a cultural shift in consumer consciousness of eco-friendly practices by brands, it has not yet translated into what people end up buying. Marketing to individuals needs to be made more transparent so the consumer is aware that they are supporting an eco-conscious brand that uses green packaging for their goods. Educating consumers on the type of packaging they are buying (whether it be reusable or recyclable) needs to be made more apparent from brands universally, so consumers have the knowledge of what can be done with that packaging when they no longer need it for it’s intended purpose. Furthermore, teaching individuals how to properly reduce, reuse, and recycle needs to be made fool proof and simple so that people do not feel inconvenienced or overwhelmed at the thought of shifting their routines.
I have all but exacerbated the how’s and what’s, but ultimately, Dura-Pack, you are asking for me to answer why companies should transition to green packaging. I do not see these fair questions being mutually exclusive, however. It is simple to admit that there needs to be a change so that future generations can enjoy the earth as we have had the privilege to experience it, but it is harder to examine how we go about getting there, and I truly believe these are all means to the same ends. What happens on larger scales is a reflection for how individuals are operating themselves, and there must be a better mirror image that we see coming from that interaction. We all exist here together, and we must take responsibility for creating the world we wish to see.
Essay by: Shayla Wynne
Arizona State University