American Environmentalism: Corporate-Led Solutions To Sustainable Packaging The world that we live in is based on material goods and the flow of those goods. Unfortunately, for the flow of goods to take place, waste is commonly involved, often in the form of packaging. With millions of Americans making online purchases and having goods shipped to their homes, the amount of packaging waste that results is truly staggering. There is certainly a tremendous amount of packaging waste when considering only individuals, but when businesses and organizations are included in the mix when ordering shipments in bulk, the issue of packaging waste expands greatly. It is important that companies adopt environmentally friendly packaging as it is not only the right thing to do, but with current trends surrounding environmental stewardship, sustainable business plans are the way of the future. Organizations that invest in sustainable policies and environmentally friendly packaging now will be set up for success in the future when the competitive market values the importance of sustainable packaging.

One prevalent issue involving many organizations today considers the matter of greenwashing, where companies claim to understand the importance of sustainability challenges and announce that management is working to address these issues, but in reality, this is a false pretense in order to gain public support of the organization. Instead of greenwashing, companies that make an effort to implement sustainable policies, such as environmentally friendly packaging, are taking the initiative and paving the way towards a better tomorrow. With the ever-increasing calls for reducing waste and increasing the environmental responsibility of companies and corporations, those organizations that implement sustainable initiatives, such as environmentally friendly packaging, in the present will be far ahead of their competitors in the future when mandates for sustainable packaging as passed due to the inevitable challenge that the massive accumulation of packing waste imposes on society and the environment.

Not only is it a logical business decision for a company to transition to environmentally friendly packaging, but it is also the right choice considering social and environmental ethics. With single-use packaging waste accounting for a significant proportion of the total landfill waste in America, it is only a matter of time until environmentally friendly packaging becomes a primary focus of our elected officials and decision-makers. When this does happen, the companies that have already made the transition to environmentally friendly packaging will have the knowledge and infrastructure to assist other companies in adhering to emergent environmental policies.

Packaging, is of course, necessary for our tremendous economy and society to function in the same capacity that we are accustomed to. Without cheap and mass-produced packaging, the shipping of goods would be significantly more expensive on an annual basis. This would affect the quality of life for millions of Americans as more money would need to be allocated for basic products. Conversely, if nothing is done, the quality of life in America would decrease from the unrelenting buildup of landfill waste where packaging waste accounts for a significant portion of the problem. We, as a society, as Americans, as families, and as companies must work together in furthering the development and implementation of environmentally friendly packaging. This is an issue that affects all of us in the present and will certainly have a profound impact on future generations and the environment. By investing in environmentally friendly packaging policies now, companies will pave the way towards a more sustainable tomorrow and will secure our future by mitigating the flow of materials to landfills, allowing for more packaging materials to be recycled, increasing the quality of life for future generations without compromising the economic freedoms of our country.

Essay by: Sidney McKee
Arizona State University

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