The further into 2020 we get, the more dependent we are on shipping items straight to our house. It is fast, convenient, and people-free. I began 2020 never buying items online, and now that is all I do with my time. I may order something small and not fragile, but it comes in a package with endless amounts of Styrofoam and non-recyclable plastic that all ends up in the trash and then in the Great Pacific garbage patch. Everything is fine in small doses, but with an increase of online shopping, there should be a change in the environmental friendliness of packaging materials.

I would love to say that companies should change to sustainable packaging because they do not want to see their oceans and land be filled with trash, but most companies prefer the economical approach. People are more willing to invest in purchasing a product knowing it is less harmful to the environment. People want to spend a little more money to reduce the guilt of throwing away 10 pounds of Styrofoam. Retailers also show preference to sustainable and eco-friendly companies. As an employee at a large retail company, I receive weekly trainings on brands and there is a direct focus on companies that practice sustainability. Retailers love the idea of selling products that are healthier for the world. Adding that extra ad-lib about environmental friendliness does wonders for a sale.

Schools are teaching sustainability and global climate change in their classrooms, which means that all younger generations are going to be adapting to the ideology of preserving the planet. If companies want continued business over generations, adopting sustainable packaging and practices is the smart option. It is both a business benefit as well as a moral benefit for the world’s future. A small move makes a huge impact when reducing waste. The most disgusting thing we can do to our world is fill it with a never-ending cycle of trash. A lot of what is utilized as packaging materials is non-recyclable, non-sustainable, one-time use, never-decaying trash. Unless we stop, we will be filling our world with what was in our boxes during quarantine. The world deserves better than what society is giving it. Future generations also deserve to be left with a move in the right direction for healing our planet and making its oceans beautiful again.

I am from good old Nebraska, home of a lot of corn, cows, and the second-best zoo in the world. This means that I am completely fascinated by the ocean because all I grew up with was a couple lakes and 3 rivers. When I imagine the ocean, I see marine life glittering in the sun beams that break through the waves. I see a whole wildness underneath the surface of the water. What I do not imagine is garbage cluttering the white-crested waves. Trillions of pieces of trash are just floating in the water, steadily increasing in amount. Whales should not be dying over the three-dollar T-shirt I bought last week. Companies have a responsibility to pave the way for the future. They should move forward in environmentally friendly packaging because of morals and it is financially beneficial. It is a bold and wise move in the long run. With changing opinions, generations, and an increase in shipping, this is a perfect time for change, so why not? Companies should take a step in the right direction with environmentally friendly packaging.

Essay by: Nicole Ashcraft
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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