Unpacking Our Environmental Dilemma

While I was in college I had a professor that told me I would make trash for the rest of my life. To most people that would be an insult. However, to me and the thousands of others that work in the packaging industry, it’s a reality (thanks for the insight Dr.Batt!). We make products that accomplish exactly what they are designed to do, but we often aren’t successful in the end of life for these packages.

Packaging is typically designed to accomplish a few things. Specifically, to contain, protect, promote, and transport a product. By this measurement we are effective, but I would argue there is a major over-site. We aren’t always designing with the packages end of life in mind. I want to change that.

Once our packaging is utilized, it’s tossed in the trash and that’s the end of it. My hope is to inspire both others in the industry and consumers using these products to think differently. But this isn’t just about packaging. This is about everything we use. Only through a holistic perspective can we improve the complex world we live in.

As environmental concern has grown over recent years, consumers have demanded more, and rightfully so. Like many others, the packaging industry has begun to answer that request in a variety of ways and is continuing to develop new materials and methods to do so. However, this request for brand owners and manufacturers to solve this dilemma alone is futile. It’s you and me. It’s the consumers of these products that also have a responsibility to use our products and dispose of them in an appropriate manor. We have the power to buy from brands that we believe in. Brands that keep the environment in mind when creating their products and packaging.

You see, this isn’t a blog just for my packaging industry colleagues. They likely already know much of this information. This is an opportunity for anyone to educate themselves in everything trash. Knowledge is power, even if it’s just on garbage. I will be exploring things ranging from some of the foundational information about what our products are made out of to some of the complex and creative ways different industries are solving this environmental dilemma we find ourselves in. So let’s unpack this box of environmentalism knowledge and see what we can learn together. Careful, this might get dirty.