Experience of the Past

After High School, one of my Mom’s summer jobs was working at our fairly new, local recycling plant. She can tell many interesting stories about her days there. It was a time when recycling was new, at least here in our small town. Not everyone believed in the benefits of recycling. Many people thought it was so much more work to separate your recyclable packaging, rather than just throwing it in the garbage. Every chance Mom got, she explained just how much less is going into our Landfill because of this program.

A Family’s Present

Many years later, our family of 4 recycles everything we can. Right down to toilet paper rolls. Even with our recycle bins filled every week, we still create a lot of garbage, that goes straight to the Landfill and will take years, if ever, to decompose.

Of interest to my family is the evolution of waste created by meal order companies. Many families are busy. In order to own a home, both of my parents work. My Dad has two jobs. In a time when costs are rising for living, transportation and food, families are looking for ways to save money. Enter in coupons for meal order companies. If done correctly, one can get a months’ worth of orders at 50 % cost. Surprisingly in my small town, this ends up costing us less than going to the grocery story. So when we are busy, we order it and my Mom says it greatly reduces her stress about worrying about what we will have to eat on some nights.

Over time, we started to think about the waste it was creating. Individual packages of spices, sauces, ice packs etc. added greatly to our garbage for the week. We went online and started reading about the packaging these companies provide.

First off is the box it is shipped in. Cardboard. Both recyclable and re-useable. We reuse these boxes for storage, play toys for the cats, and we also offer them to others for moving, storage, etc. If not used, we collapse and recycle. Next are the ice packs. At first, we had no idea what was inside the ice packs, so we were careful how to dispose of them. We re-froze and re-used in our camping coolers when we could. Fast forward, and now the ice packs are made only of water. You can use it to wash out your sink, water your grass or your flowers. The food packaging has been reduced 45 % since they launched in 2016. Certainly, there is still a lot of waste, however, it is refreshing to see a company trying to make a difference in what will end up in our landfills just because of their packaging.

The Future – For Families – For the Earth

Environmental packaging should be adopted by companies whenever possible. Even in my family, we can visually see the positive impacts of environmental packaging. Our garbage bins are less full, we have had to add a second recycle bin to our household. If you drive to our local landfill, you can see the recycle drop off area and the garbage drop off area. It is easy to see the difference it would make if that recycling was simply added to the landfill. In Landfills today, Paper and Paperboard are often the highest percentage, followed by plastics. This is where companies can make a huge impact by changing the packaging to something that can be recycled, or at least be able to break down much more quickly.

The education of recycling must also be advertised along with any changes companies are making. They must get people to buy into the program. As consumers, we do have some choice as to what we buy, however, there are many areas we don’t have choice. That is why companies must be leaders in this area.

Works Cited:

WWRA: How long does it take for stuff to decompose? – Chelsea Update: Chelsea, Michigan, News Innovative Packaging (hellofresh.ca)

HelloFresh would like to clear the air on meal kits | Greenbiz

Landfills: We’re Running Out of Space (roadrunnerwm.com)

Essay by: Saige MacLeod
Dryden High School, Accepted to University of Southern Maine

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