So much of what we buy and use today is packaged based on convenience. Most people like things that are quick to grab and go, such as plastic water bottles; and once we use the item it’s easy to throw away and no longer worry about. It’s easy, but is it right? Environmentally friendly packaging is an easy way for many companies to help reduce their ecological footprint as well as reduce the amount of overall waste in landfills and the environment. This type of packaging typically comes from recycled materials or is made to be biodegradable or even potentially edible. Using recycled materials is important, as it means less waste is entering the landfills each year. It also helps keep recycling companies in business which enables them to collect and process more recyclable materials. The use of recycled materials also means that less natural resources, such as trees, need to be used to make new products which helps to preserve habitats and ecosystems.

I believe that creating biodegradable products is one of best ways to help reduce a company’s ecological footprint. These products take less time to break down, meaning they take up less space in landfills. Many products don’t actually make it to the landfills, or they blow out and end up in the environment. The trash you see on the side of the road or floating in rivers pose a serious threat to animals in the area. When I was a kid, I remember going on a camping trip where we found a squirrel stuck in a yogurt container. We saw him struggling, running around, and hitting things just trying to get this container off his head. We managed to catch him and get it off, but many animals affected by trash pollution aren’t as lucky.

Trash, including most plastics, can leech chemical pollutants into soil and water and is often mistaken as food in marine environments. I am a marine biology major and trash pollution in the ocean is something I believe everyone needs to work to correct and alleviate. The majority of trash in the ocean is made up of plastic. The trash is pushed by currents into large gyres where it stays and never leaves. These can create areas of floating plastic that stretch for miles. The trash doesn’t just stay at the surface. It can be found in all different sizes in every level of the water column, making it impossible for aquatic animals to escape it. Plastic is bad in every environment because it photodegrades. This means it is broken down into smaller pieces. These small pieces can be ingested and tear animals’ intestines, prevent them from eating real food, and microscopic pieces can be absorbed through skin into the bloodstream in marine environments.

All of these negative impacts created by waste can be slowed or stopped with an increased use of environmentally friendly packaging. This style of packaging provides the same protection to the products but has less negative environmental impacts. Switching to this packaging is a relatively small change for manufacturing businesses but can have a huge impact on the health and beauty of the environment. Environmentally friendly packaging reduces waste in landfills, the need for natural resources, and the amount of dangers animals are currently facing due to human impact.

Essay by: Claire Binfield
Mitchell College

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