To answer the question “why should more companies adopt more environmentally friendly packaging,” I conducted an experiment where I showed randomly selected people two images of packaging – one environmentally friendly and one traditional – then asked them which one they preferred and why.

Traditional Packaging

Of the fifty people I talked to, the overwhelming majority, 80% or 40 people chose the eco-friendly packaging – a clear winner. They gave me seven reasons for their choice – here’s what they said:
1) It reduces the carbon footprint:
• “Makes me feel that I am doing something positive to deal with the pollution of the environment.”
• “When plastic goes into landfills it releases emissions that further contributes to climate change.”
• “I’m concerned about the deforestation that is contributing to the carbon production in the environment increasing the climate change problem. I am happy when companies reduce the amount of their packaging.”

2) It’s free from toxins:
• “I worry about bottles or cans that contain BPA. I’ve heard that it causes cancer. I always choose products with “BPA-free” label.”
• “I am concerned that the materials they use in packaging can leak into foods and overtime can lead to serious health problems.”

3) It’s bio-degradable and made from recycled materials:
• “After seeing pictures of beaches covered with plastic bottles, I prefer products that use bio-degradable packaging.”
• “I support companies that use recycled products in their packaging. The world already has enough garbage.”

4) It reduces usage of harmful plastic material:
• “I avoid plastic whenever possible – it’s bad for you, it clogs drains causing flooding and traps and kills fish.”
• “I heard that plastic in landfills can leach into groundwater and be poisonous.”

5) It can be more attractive, creative, and versatile:
• “That package looks better – it’s more colorful, “green”, seems more organic or natural – so it’s probably healthier and better for you.”
• “The first thing you see when you buy something is its packaging – I always buy something that’s different and better looking.”

6) It contributes to a more positive brand message:
• “I prefer companies that are more transparent about their practices – how they are sourced, made, and what will happen after they are used.”
• “If a company is environmentally conscious, that tells me that they can be trusted to be of better quality.”

7) It broadens a brand’s consumer base and attracts younger increasingly environmentally conscious consumers:
• “I’m an environmentally conscious consumer. I always choose “green” brands. It makes me feel better about myself.”
• “If I had to choose between a brand that’s doing something good for the environment and one that is not even trying, I’ll always choose the more environmentally conscious one – even if I had to pay more.”
• “My parents grew up not being concerned about the environment, and frankly left us a mess. I feel it’s my responsibility to choose brands that are environmentally friendly.”
It is clear to me that eco-friendly packaging has a winning future and will be beneficial to companies who adopt it. Companies that convert to eco-friendly packaging will not only save money, be able to create more appealing and attractive products, build a better brand image, improve their companies’ reputation but certainly also attract new consumers.

People are becoming more environmentally aware and taking a more mindful approach to their everyday lives – where they reduce, reuse, repair, and recycle and are developing routine, lasting sustainability practices.

Essay by: Maddy Soussi Temli
New York University, SPS

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