Packaging comes in a variety of forms with infinite materials, yet we tend to use the most harmful ones to our environment for everyday use. Unlike the infinite uses and materials of packaging material, the world’s oceans are a finite source of beauty and life which is why the actions we make from this day forward are important in regards to saving our oceans. The packaging material that draws itself to the ocean tends to be plastic which is used everyday, no matter the lifestyle we live, and is the most damaging product to our waters. Taking the time to educate ourselves and one another is the premise of a long term plan to save the world’s oceans from becoming our personal waste bin.
Due to the fact that almost anything humans own comes in packaging, we’ve normalized the idea of “throwaway” culture which is how large amounts of packaging materials, such as plastic, end up in the ocean more often than not. Similar to the way humans have normalized “throwaway” culture, plastic has become a vital part of our lives out of convenience. This subconscious action has led our oceans to be plagued by more than five trillion pieces of plastic and at the rate that we discard trash, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050 (Walsh, Formanek, Loo and Phillips). A solution that environmentalists have proposed and encouraged is to use reusable products which are easier to break down than materials like plastic.
A way that enforces the idea of reusable products is the use of compost-friendly products that are easier to dispose of from an environmental perspective. With the copious number of sports around the world comes the same amount of professional leagues which are open for public viewing. The professional sports world encompasses not only the sport and players itself, but the food, beer, and merchandise that propel the love for the sport beyond that particular game. In the selling of such items, it’s easy to be oblivious to the heavy usage of plastic in the form of nacho trays, cups and utensils. In the United States, it is no secret how much Americans love their sports, one of the main being baseball. One team in the Major League Baseball (MLB) organization, the Minnesota twins, have acknowledged the harmful-nature of its concession products to the environment. In their acknowledgment of their dangerous products, the Minnesota Twins partnered with a compost-based product company in which they replaced their concession products with a low carbon footprint material called Ingeo. With this switch, consumers could effectively deposit their food and food packaging, thus diverting these products from landfills to compost facilities (natureworksllc.com). Looking at this MLB test study, it can be concluded that compostable materials often come in food scraps which countries outside of the U.S. have realized and taken this into account when looking at the origin of homeless people’s food source.
The topic of food waste and the misuse of it has caught the attention of the French as they took it upon themselves to create a law that limits the amount of food that goes to waste. The French noticed the abundance of homeless people that look for food in their supermarket garbage bins. In many countries, individual and packaged foods are being thrown into the garbage bins of supermarkets if the product is left unsold or a few days past its sell date. Because this leads to an unnecessary amount of wasted food, France made a law that forbids supermarkets from throwing away and destroying food. Instead, they must donate the unsold food to food banks and charities that will use the food appropriately (Chrisafis). With this method, less food and its packaging are likely to end up in the ocean.
How do we reduce packaging waste in the world’s ocean? Gathering relevant information and advocating for biodegradable and compostable materials is where we start in this movement toward reducing packaging waste in our oceans.
Essay by: Nina Allen
Western Washington University