Companies should adopt environmentally friendly packaging because it is unavoidable that humans consume goods, and whenever humans consume goods, packaging accumulates with each purchase. Instead of allowing more and more plastic to pile up in our landfills and oceans, it would be best for companies to adopt less harmful packaging in order to take better care of the earth and its inhabitants. After all, we only get one planet.

Unrecycled plastic packaging can cause damage to wildlife in oceans and in other natural habitats. It is commonly known that garbage in our oceans can become entangled with wildlife, which may cause them distress, confusion, and potentially harm or death. Recently, businesses have instituted more eco-friendly practices such as switching to paper straws because plastic straws are known to cause harm to aquatic life. Another negative aspect of garbage in our oceans is that plastic eventually breaks down into micro-plastics, which fish and aquatic wildlife may consume. Not only could this be harmful to the animals, but humans end up ingesting plastics when they eat seafood that has been contaminated with plastic parts. Further, allowing plastic to accumulate in landfills can potentially allow chemicals to seep into our groundwater. Again, this can cause damage to humans and wildlife alike if these plastic chemicals are ingested or absorbed.

If not plastic, then what should companies use to package their products? Non-toxic, compostable paper packaging is a more sustainable packaging option, as it can be safely broken down and absorbed within soil in a reasonable amount of time without adding unnatural chemicals into the soil. Some other options may be things like glass and aluminum, which can more-easily be recycled. A large part of the problem with plastic is that a lot of it is not truly recyclable or, even if it is, it does not end up getting recycled. Different communities have different recycling guidelines which can lead to a lot of recyclable plastic getting thrown away because local recycling plants do not accept it. Further, there are still some communities that do not even have recycling programs. Beyond paper, glass, and aluminum, companies can get innovative! We live in a world full of bright minds that have the potential to come up with new ideas to package products in more sustainable ways. One example of this is straws made from plant cellulose. These straws are nearly indistinguishable from plastic straws – customers enjoy the same comforts that they are accustomed to with a less harmful environmental impact.

In conclusion, companies should adopt environmentally friendly packaging to protect nature, animals, and humans. Plastic, while convenient, is rather unsustainable, especially because there are alternatives that could be adopted that pose less danger. While sustainability may not be the easiest option, it takes into consideration that people do not want to be living in their own trash: this planet is beautiful, and it would be preferable to keep it that way. Because people are consumers, it is not reasonable to expect packaging needs to simply disappear. However, it is reasonable to ask that companies make more sustainable swaps and get creative in their thinking to prove themselves faithful stewards of the earth that we all share.

Essay by: Faith Coburn
Messiah University

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