My name is Donato Zavala, I am a first-generation college freshman at Arizona State University. I have a self-educated, hard working mother and a Mexican immigrant father. My parents have done everything possible to provide me with an excellent future by working extensively to afford a roof over my head, food, clothes and above all a private Christian education throughout middle and high school. My secondary education at Northwest Christian taught me the values of working hard, having faith, loving the planet we were given and ultimately the importance of being a good human being. I have always loved my environment, especially the world’s oceans and the beautifully complex creatures that live in them.

There are many solutions to reducing the waste in the world’s oceans, however one that I found to be very efficient is an eco friendly alternative to the plastic six ring holders used to package beverage cans that plagues our oceans. The plastic six rings, although only fifty years old, have caused an immensely large negative impact on our planet’s oceans. Plastic six pack rings alone have killed as many as one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year. Since this discovery, the E.P.A. mandated that all companies that use plastic six pack rings need to develop a degradable form of the plastic six pack rings. Companies have since then responded by developing plastic six pack rings that are photodegradable, meaning they degrade under light. The problem with this technique is when the plastic degrades in a couple months, it leaves behind small byproducts that are still harmful to the environment and can still be ingested by the marine wildlife. Six pack rings also take months to degrade which leaves plenty of time for an animal to accidentally ingest or ensnare themself in the rings.

The best solution I discovered through research on how to reduce packaging waste in the world’s oceans, are biodegradable edible six pack rings. This product was developed by SaltWater Brewery in DelRay Beach Florida. They developed the world’s first biodegradable and edible six ring pack. This edible six pack is made up of barley and wheat remnants that are left behind after the brewing process, which is so eco friendly. This new six pack ring is one hundred percent biodegradable and compostable, and best of all these rings can feed animals instead of killing them! This biodegradable six pack ring is also just as efficient and durable as the plastic six pack ring. This solution is a cheaper method of making a six pack ring than the plastic counterpart. If other large beer companies follow in SaltWater Brewery’s footsteps, together they will be able to begin a process that will assist all of the oceans ecosystem and marine life.

With an awarded scholarship from Dura-Pack I would be able to financially sustain myself longer while I attend Arizona State University. My parents have loved and nurtured me, while also engraving the importance of loving and taking care of our planet, since I was a small child. They taught me that by doing simple tasks like picking up trash on the side of the road while walking, I can do my part. They have done their part for me as long as they could but due to the current pandemic in the U.S. and world many people, including my hard working mother who is the bread winner of my family, have recently lost their jobs. Because of this debacle, and other financial complications, I am left to pay for my own college tuition. A scholarship from Dura-Pack would help greatly to keep me financially stable during this difficult time and continue my education so one day I can help make the world a better place and all of it’s creatures safer.

Essay by: Donato Mario Zavala
Arizona State University

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