Our world has experienced an ever-increasing amount of interconnectivity and moves so fast that most people in the workforce are far too busy to run errands. This has led to the rise of companies like Amazon and Hello Fresh to provide home delivery services for individuals who don’t have time to go to the store and shop. This is only one factor though, with the global pandemic of COVID-19 and the need to social distance, our society relies heavily on these services not just for convenience, but for safety. As these types of services are helpful, they create an incredible amount of waste, whether it is from the shipping and packing materials or the packaging of the products themselves by the manufacturer.

Adopting environmentally friendly and sustainable practices for packaging is vital for our environment to thrive. We create an incredible amount of waste every year and so much of it comes from packaging, especially non-recyclable materials such a Styrofoam and thin plastics. I applaud companies that have already started taking these steps in their services like Hungry Root and of course, Dura-Pack. Making these outward goals for re-usable, recyclable, biodegradable and processes that create less pollution are what will set an example and lead these industries to increase their environmental practices.

As the reader of this essay may already know, Dura-Pack uses plastic films for their packaging which is biodegradable. Having these materials is important so they don’t sit around in landfills and continue to pollute. Being biodegradable allows our waste to go back to the earth and assist in continuing the cycle of creating and decay. I had mentioned Hungry Root earlier because as a food delivery service, they use a cardboard and pulp type of insulation that is easily recycled along with their packaging which can be re-used. My biggest problem with various food delivery services is that there is a heavy use of Styrofoam and Mylar, which is just thrown into the trash.

However, it is not just recyclable materials that should be kept in mind, it’s also the ability to re-use packaging for personal or corporate purposes. I have come across bags made by Dura-Pack (I swear I am being honest and not just talking up Dura-Pack due to the scholarship), the fact that these bags are resealable are perfect to re-fill for snacks or to put veggies from my garden in to give to people or save for later. They are also perfect for germinating and growing plants since they can be resealed and allow some light in the center for the plant to grow inside, like a mini greenhouse. Using product designs like this is imperative to not just tossing away waste, but making further use of it beyond it’s intended lifespan.

Our use of packaged materials has only grown, and with our society experiencing a pandemic, our reliance on easily packaged and shipped materials has become a vital part of our daily lives. With this, we must continue to be mindful, make sure we can re-use materials and if not, at least allow them to be recycled or degrade safely back to the earth. As a healthcare worker who is continuing through nursing school, I see so much waste that goes through a hospital and I hope one day to see hospital suppliers take steps to maintain safety standards but also make better efforts to use sustainable packaging and supplies.

Essay by: Kevin Smith
Linfield University

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