When I was younger, my favorite movie of all was The Lorax. It was a charming yet foreboding tale of a little orange creature who appears to those harming the forests of the world, warning them of what will happen if their ambition outweighs their regard for nature. At the time I understood only the most basic message of the film: take care of our Earth, and it will remain beautiful. But now I understand even better the essential encouragement given to us by Dr. Suess: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” As inhabitants of this beautiful world, it is our privilege and our responsibility to care for its well-being- we must fight for sustainable methods that will keep our oceans blue, our forests green, and our connection with nature intact and stronger than ever.

One of the best possible ways to accomplish this feat is to navigate our efforts towards financially feasible environmental sensitivity within the packaging industry. In 2018, 82.2 million tons of municipal solid waste were owed to packaging. Whether it’s a bag of chips, bottle of shampoo, or an Amazon package arriving at your door, it is no overestimation to claim that packaging takes up an immense percentage of the waste we generate daily. This is why it is imperative that the collective focus is shifted to this industry.

The foremost goal of this endeavor should be to educate both consumers and the companies serving them on the essential nature of environmentally safe packaging as a significant method of decreasing the world’s negative impact on nature. Everyday people who might not understand why investing in sustainability is critical must be made aware that their buying habits, irrelevant as they may seem, could ultimately contribute to a brighter and cleaner world. Similarly and most importantly, companies providing packaging must be alerted of their responsibility to lessen the effects of pollution and waste accumulation.

A key factor of this education piece is to walk alongside companies once they have learned what needs to be done to find a transition that works for them, whether practically or financially. One major way this can be accomplished is the priority of lighter weight packaging or less packaging in general. This method decreases the overall amount of material needed to ship items, so the company is not just aiding in the protection of their environment but is also saving money on packaging equipment. Secondly, investing in durability decreases the need for returned items due to damage. Customers will be more satisfied with their purchases and so will be less likely to return them, decreasing the need for additional packaging material and increasing the overall customer satisfaction associated with that company. Finally, the availability of reusable and recyclable non-toxic materials that can be used for packaging is wide and diverse. Whether it is paper, cardboard, glass, or even mushrooms, these environmentally friendly items contribute both to the well-being of our planet as well as the reputation of the company as one that upholds regard to the environment.

Secondly, action must be taken at the federal level. For the packaging industry to successfully realize the weight of their responsibility to promote environmentally safe methods, laws must be set in place that require and award these efforts. Such incentives could include decreases in taxes granted to companies utilizing greener packaging. An even more effective method would be to provide penalization for those who do not promote sustainability. While this provides a financial motivation toward safer packaging, it also provides impetus on the grounds of public reputation. A company that stands for protecting its environment would no doubt earn more respect and correspondingly more consumer attention than one who blatantly does not.

Although the fight for a transition toward sustainability within the packaging industry is a difficult one, its victory is imperative as it will ensure a cleaner and safer future for our planet and its inhabitants. In order to “escape The Lorax,” we must prioritize the careful regard of our environment, remembering today and every day that if we love our planet, it will love us in return. Our mantra should continue to be, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better. It’s not.”

Essay by: Peyton Bell
Clovis North High School

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