I’ve lived in the same house since I was 4. It has a big porch, and the floors are a little crooked because it was built in 1920. It’s on a main street in a small town near a big city. We are surrounded by beautiful rivers and tall trees. The air is clean, and the rain keeps the plants green. There are birds in the sky and ducks and fish in the river. When I was little, my dad took me fishing in the river and my brother played in the trees with me at the park. I can walk to the library to pick up my book holds and then to my grandma’s house for cookies. My grandma’s cookies usually come with a hug and some kind of lecture.

My grandma is actually the one who taught me the importance of giving back to the community and protecting the environment. My family is a Scout family, so we spend a lot of time helping nature. I pull invasive plants and maintain trails at Mary S Young Park. I plant trees. I do river clean ups. I pick up litter in my neighborhood. We do things at home like use washcloths instead of paper towels and try to buy things second hand whenever we can. When we are shopping, we try to buy the item that has the least amount of packaging. My mom stopped buying the enchiladas at her favorite restaurant because they package them in a lot of Styrofoam, which is terrible for the environment. My family taught me that my choices matter, even if I am just one person.

If just one person can make a difference, then companies have a lot of power to make an impact. As a country, the U.S. generates 268 million tons of trash (McDonald) and much of that is from packaging. It doesn’t have to be that way though; there are alternatives. One great way to reduce the amount of trash is through the use of environmentally sustainable packaging.

The main ways of making environmentally sustainable packaging is by minimizing the amount of packaging used, making packaging from recycled materials, and making packaging that can be reused multiple times. When companies are deciding on what packaging to use for their products, they should use what they need to protect the products but no more. Excess packaging creates excess waste that is hard on the environment and serves no purpose. Companies should also choose packaging that was made responsibly from recycled materials. The companies can then make an effort to collect the packaging materials back from the consumers so that it can be reused or recycled. If companies advertise their efforts to minimize their impact on the environment, they are likely to attract new customers who also care about sustainability. It would be a smart business decision and a smart decision for the environment.

Putting less strain on the environment benefits everyone, even people outside the community. I want my kids and all the future kids growing up to have the same chances that I had. They should get beautiful rivers, tall trees, and clean air. The choices that today’s companies make decide whether or not the kids of the future get these opportunities. I hope companies consider carefully and choose correctly. The only option that guarantees a clean tomorrow is environmentally friendly packaging.

Essay by: Madelyn Heckert
Gladstone High School

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