The phrase “environmentally friendly packaging” is almost guaranteed to piss off fathers everywhere— more specifically, the stubborn men that don’t want to admit global warming is a real thing that is happening. The fact is, though, that the use of plastic water bottles and other plastic packaging are a relatively new, expensive concept. On top of that, they’re unsafe and companies should switch to safer packaging simply because there is no good reason to use them in the first place.

There is an important bit in the movie The Lorax (the one with Taylor Swift) where two guys propose something monumentally stupid to a CEO who runs a company that profits off of selling fresh air while simultaneously polluting the natural air. These guys propose a whole new concept: bottled air. Mr. CEO’s reaction is something along the lines of, “Who would be stupid enough to buy that?” Which, yeah, sounds about right. I mean, air is readily available, right? Why on God’s green earth would we pay for it? But here are the facts: back in the 60’s when plastic bottled water became trendy, people were asking the same exact question. Tap water is just as readily available, so why should we pay for bottled water? On top of that, why should we ruin our environment for it? Perrier was spending all this money on a mass advertising campaign to seemingly sell a moot point— and it worked. Just like in The Lorax, people bought into it. Why? Because people are people. We spend money on things we don’t need to spend money on. Sometimes we even do it to flex on other people. “Hey look at me, I buy Fiji Water because I make more money than you!” That’s just a thing people do, and it’s never going to stop.

If we’re going to continue buying water we already have, though, why can’t it be better for the environment? As it is, 80 percent of plastic water bottles end up in landfills, and from there, more harmful chemicals seep into the environment. That’s not even mentioning the whopping 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases being added to the air because of plastic production and incineration. Add all of this up and it becomes evident that plastic water bottles are one of the worst forms of packaging for our environment. And they’re not the only ones, either. Plastic bags, traditional paper tea bags, soda packaging— they’re all harmful to our environment, yet we still use them. Why? Most companies claim it’s cheaper and in some cases, it is, but there are safer alternatives. For example, boxed water has a lower carbon footprint and less of an effect on the atmosphere. It’s just as readily available as plastic, and there is still a huge potential for profit.

In the end, companies should be switching to safer packaging because it’s safer for the environment therefore safer for us. Besides, the real question isn’t why should companies be switching to environmentally-friendly packaging, but why shouldn’t they? This is the health of planet earth and all of its various biomes and organisms, after all. What’s more important than that?

Essay by: Madelyn Medina
Arizona State University

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