The world population has reach 7.8 billion as of January 2020 and is ever growing. This number is daunting and can make it easy for people to think that they cannot make a difference, especially on issues regarding the global warming crisis. In todays world, its easy to think that my one plastic water bottle won’t matter, that my garbage certainly won’t cause too much of an issue. However, if 7.8 billion people are all saying that they can’t make a difference, that their one bottle doesn’t matter, that’s 7.8 billion bottles being tossed away. Hopefully these bottles make it into landfills, but they will more realistically end up in our oceans.

The impact of individuals on the environment can be detrimental, considering that one person in the U.S (on average) generates 4.5 pounds of garbage per day. Over a month, and even at the end of the year, this number can become unbelievably large. Now, imagine how much waste a single company might produce in a year. A company may produce waste from things such as manufacturing, shipping, packaging, and even from their employees.

It is pertinent for companies to take responsibility and diminish their harmful effects on the environment. There are many ways to do this, but one of the most effective ways is through environmentally friendly packaging. The packaging of materials created 80.1 million tons of municipal solid waste in 2017 according to the EPA. However, if companies take the initiative to create recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging, this number could be drastically decreased.

Of course, the main reason that companies should begin using environmentally friendly packaging materials is because it can decrease harmful effects on our environment. Since those running the company, as well as working for the company, must live within this environment, it is a good idea to take care of it while we still can. If this reason is not enough, companies can actually save money and/or make more profit by using environmentally friendly packaging materials.

For example, many packaging products that are environmentally friendly can save companies money on shipping costs. Packaging that is meant to be environmentally friendly is quite often designed to be less bulky, which means that the items being shipped may weigh less and/or take up less space. This means that companies can either pay less for shipping costs, or send more products for the same cost, and without having to make multiple shipments.

In addition, most consumers are more likely to buy products if they believe they are environmentally friendly. Brands that are environmentally friendly can often gain more business, such as TOMS, Patagonia, and Lush Cosmetics. Simply making the change to eco-friendly packaging can encourage consumers to buy their products. If the consumer feels like they are helping the declining environment by making a purchase that benefits their needs as well, why would they get the product from a different company that is harmful to the environment?

Overall, companies have plenty of motivators to switch to eco-friendly packaging, including increased sales, which lead to profit. Profit is not the only motivator, and perhaps the greatest one is that by having environmentally friendly packaging materials, they can make a difference in the state of our environment. My one water bottle may not make a large difference, but one companies packaging materials will.

Essay by: Hannah Brocious
Penn State University (Erie)