In a world full of single-use conveniences, it's easy to overlook the impact packaging has on the environment. Though it would be nice, it doesn't magically vanish once it disappears into a trash truck. Rather, it stays with us for generations, filling landfills and leaching toxins to the environment.
Fortunately, you don't have to sacrifice convenience to protect the environment. Zero Waste Packaging is a commonsense solution growing in popularity quickly.
Consider this for a moment: Americans produce approximately 1.4 billion pounds of trash daily, with approximately 40% of that being packaging of one sort or another. We trash enough disposable cups and utensils every year to go around the equator 300 times.
What Does Zero Waste Packaging Mean?
Since the 70s, innovators have been working to produce eco friendly packaging that meets the demands of our to-go world, as well as eliminates negative environmental impact. Essentially, Zero Waste Packaging means that materials are either 100% reusable or decompose without harm. This philosophy applies to sourcing, production and disposal.
The most successful and idealistic Zero Waste Packaging production systems mimic natural cycles. The ultimate model is this: when plants in a forest die, they decompose and become topsoil that feeds the next generation of plants. Nothing is lost, and nothing is harmed. One life cycle’s end is the beginning of another.
Standard Packaging is Dirty Business
Plastic utensils, straws, single use coffee cups and plastic bags are examples of packaging that don't decompose without harm, like plants. As these materials decompose, they damage the environment by leaching chemicals into groundwater and poisoning wildlife that mistake it as food.
Making matters worse, these types of wasteful packaging take generations to decompose. Take a standard plastic grocery bag as an example. It takes 10 to 20 years to break down under the best conditions. If that bag isn't disposed of properly, it will eventually make its way to the ocean. After drifting for some time, the bag will join one of the many garbage patches floating in oceans around the world, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Your Voice Matters
With economical eco friendly packaging and single use serveware available, there is no reason why anybody should use wasteful products. If every food service provider switched to Zero Waste Packaging, the positive results would be far-reaching and immediate.
You can help strengthen the future of Zero Waste Packaging by purchasing foods from companies that use 100% biodegradable, eco friendly packaging. Another way you can help is to ask companies and businesses you frequent to use Zero Waste Packaging. Send your comments through email and social media, as well as speaking to front-line employees. If owners and stakeholders hear from enough of their customers and staff, they will change their ways because they have to satisfy customers to stay in business.
Zero Waste Packaging is no longer a dream from the 70s. It's reality. If enough people stand up and demand change, it will happen.