Packaging accounts for about 5% of the energy used in the life cycle of a product making it a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. But, we all have responsibility to do more than the best we can in reversing or preventing more man-made climate damage.

Let me tell you why going green is necessary not only in the packaging industry but in all aspects of our economy and our life styles. This year the last 2 months, the people in California bay area, parts of Oregon and other western states, all could not breathe due to the thick smoke from wildfires. It isn’t even only this year. Unbreathable air due to wildfire smoke has been happening almost every summer for 2 to 4 months every day in the many recent years. Why haven’t we protested more urgently to a basic need to breathe clean air? The entire day on Sept 8, 2020, the sky in the bay area, parts of California, Oregon and Washington was so thick with smoke that it blocked the sun entirely. There was no day and afternoon. The entire day was just dark and the reddish orange sky looked like Lord of The Rings’ Mordor. It was so concerningly apocalyptic. As of today Oct 6, 2020, over 4 million acres of forest and trees, including Redwood trees, parts of national parks and forests and thousands of houses and structures have been burned down this year alone. People have died and many have lost everything that is dear to their lives. My heart has been sunk for several days. I cannot wrap my head on such a large extent of wildfires that burned for so many weeks due to the many lightnings and hot weather temperatures that made all the shrubs so dry and quick to ignite. I cannot imagine how many more thousands of fire fighters or jail prisoners they can have fighting humongous wildfires. What number is big enough that everyone will agree that we have to aggressively act on this?

I see the abnormal melting, and disintegration of glaciers, methane permafrosts and extinction of animal species both in land and in the ocean and I just am so distressed about how we can be so self-centered and unaware of our destructive behaviors to the natural environment. I visit my teenage friends’ bedroom and looked at the overflowing closet of clothes, shoes, bags and I ask myself do we really need this much. I walk into stores and my mind is bombarded with so much glitzy colorful packaged products from food, to electronics, to furniture, to every imaginable man made product and I ask again do we really need all of this? Man has created so much unnecessary man made products and product packaging that huge islands of trash are floating in at least 4 gyres in the ocean, not including all the plastics and tire rubber that has shredded and sunk in the bottom of the ocean or are in the seas that marine animals have ingested.

The clear evidence that we have caused damage to the climate requires action on everyone. I believe that all universities and educational institutions should educate all its students on the increasing urgency of why each of us need to do our part to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adopt sustainable operations and reduce waste. The younger generation should be taught to understand climate change as early as possible to help them with consumer choices and lay on the foundations early for attitudes about what is appropriate and moral with respect to climate change. The future generations need to know that they will face the reality of a changing climate in their own lifetimes and that they are the most vulnerable. They need to be motivated to have an ambitious societal response that will avoid the most dangerous risks of climate change. Educational institutions can be climate champions by demonstrating on their campuses what can be done to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adopt sustainable operations and reduce waste. Unfortunately, this is just only a part of the solution. Addressing climate damage needs a holistic approach and everyone’s

Kyle Chun
Capuchino High

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