“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children” and due to that we must conserve it with all our efforts. That is a quote that was ingrained in my brain because it resonated with me. It is one of the most significant things I remember from my time in my school’s Interact Club. I believe it is due to the fact that I am Peruvian-American and I have seen how the environment in Peru is in places. A harrowing memory that is so vivid in my brain is from my first time in Peru. When coming into the capital the city of Lima it is somewhat surreal to someone like me, who although i may not live in the best neighborhood in the United states I am still able to see the blue sky, but as you begin to descend from the sky into Peruvian soil it is as if there is a sheet of smog and pollution enveloping the whole city. I went from a beautiful star laden sky to what my family call the “panza de burro”, meaning a donkey’s stomach, since the Lima sky is rarely ever any other color aside from gray. It was what I saw the day after that shocked me even more. As we walked to the market I saw hundreds of pieces of trash in this small public park. That bit of green/nature was becoming gray as well covered in old papers, plastic bottles, wrappers, and plastic bags. Although that is disheartening it is not the case for all of Peru, because in the more wealthy districts clean up crews scour for the trash and discarded litter, and those areas are kept cleaner. It is a sad reality that places with more resources and economic importance get taken better care of, but even in the more impoverished areas they set up places where you are able to take recycling and facilities to help mediate the negative effect that trash waste has on the environment. We should take that bit as an example since we in the United States as well as many other wealthier countries are major polluters as well as consumers from the biggest companies that exist. The way that those companies can be accountable and help our world is by adopting the use of environmentally friendly packaging to reduce the amount of plastic in the world, which is leaving cities such as Lima resembling a trash can, and to save raw materials that will not possibly, but eventually be exhausted.
People are the consumers and unless something catastrophic happens it is unlikely they will stop buying and using a company’s product, so it is up to the company to take some responsibility to make a bigger difference. Although people like me and peers I have may be part of the fight to protect the environment via recycling, only so much can be done. As an example in 20 18 the US generated about 292 million tons of municipal solid waste and plastic is about 12% of that total, but only about a small percentage of that 35.7 million tons is taken to be recycled, and since only about 9 percent of plastic waste is capable of being recycled, according to 2018 data from the Environmental Protection Agency, You can see how the percentage is reduced and reduced and the impact of recycling is not able to make up for the negative impact created by those companies to the environment. It is only practical to think about it, and know that the way to keep our environment safe is to go to the root, and the major creator of plastic which are the companies who use it readily in packaging which is then inconsequentially disposed of within that same year by the millions of consumers. By utilizing environmentally friendly packaging the companies can make such a big impact on the amount of plastic that is created, that plastic which has a great likelihood of ending up in a city street somewhere or harming a part of our sealife, it can be lessened and more creatures can be safe and our city streets can be kept looking clean. It is because plastic is “not designed with circularity in mind”, so its use isn’t practical or ideal.
Not utilizing plastics and such for packaging in production is not the only way that companies who decide to utilize more eco-friendly packaging can make a positive impact. In doing so the Raw materials required won’t be as much, or as taxing on our environment, and it won’t deplete the supply of raw materials which we have. They aren’t indefinite so to create something that is only to be used once and discarded is not a sustainable practice. Changing for the better is something very responsible and admirable which would give such companies a platform and ability to market using those ideals. To help the environment by not harming it anymore than what it already has been is a great start, so we are able to leave our posterity with a beauty we are able to experience.
Essay by: Diane Nolasco
Texas State University