Our planet is dying. Many people don’t believe it but it’s true. Our air, land, and waters are all constantly being polluted. Everyone has the idea that even if they drop their trash someone will eventually come along and pick it up. But that’s the wrong mentality to have. When we’re younger our parents teach us to clean up after ourselves. Even our teachers help construct that message by holding “clean up time”, which is held immediately after playtime, and usually followed by a song that goes: “Clean up, Clean up, everybody everywhere. Clean up, Clean up everybody, do your share.” So when did this message get lost? Why did everyone stop doing their share?

My mom lives in Chicago so I spend quite a bit of time out there. Chicago is a big city filled with many people, many buildings, and twice as much trash. Driving down the streets of the Chicagoland area you can see that the roads and sidewalks are sprinkled with trash, almost as if they are trying to act like they are decorating the city. An easy fix to all this would just be to have everyone pick up after themselves. But that’s not as easy as one would think. Chicago, like many other cities, has a littering fine; however, that doesn’t deter its residents from polluting their town. So what’s the next best solution?

I think the next best solution to cleaning our planet would be to start using environmentally friendly packaging. By that I mean: instead of making plastic packaging for items instead try using paper instead. According to ABC News, “Plastic bags can take 5-10 years to decompose. Paper bags take about a month to decompose. Paper bags are made from trees, which are a renewable resource.” However; companies tend to make more plastic bags than paper bags anyways because “Plastic grocery bags consume 40 percent less energy to produce …” But is that 40% less energy really worth it? Companies can spare a bit more money in order to keep our planet alive and healthy, in order to prevent our streets from looking like a junkyard. Those plastic bags that you see rolling around outside could have been there from anywhere between 1 day to 10 years. If we as a community decided to use paper products instead, even with people constantly littering, the trash could be gone within a month.

Another good thing about the paper beside the fact that it decomposes fast is that it can also be used as compost. In fact, Sierra Club, a non-profit environmental organization, says “one study revealed that paper had less toxic material than straw or grass!” So not only does paper decompose fast, but it can also be good for the vegetational environment. Other examples of environmentally friendly packaging include recycled packaging, cornstarch, mushroom packaging, green cell foam, and many other types of packaging. Yes, all of these environmentally friendly options may cost more financially but sacrificing money is much preferred than sacrificing mother nature and all her glory. Money is a relatively small price to pay when the alternative is destroying our only home, Earth. The Earth is dying, so it’s time for everyone to do their share.

Essay by: Jordan Denagall
Hampton University

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