Above credit: https://www.istockphoto.com/vector/happy-earth-day-gm1017350030-273599725
Last week was Earth Week in the upper school, so we all have to be aware of the waste we make, from things even as small as the stirrers we use for our coffee and tea to things as commonplace as the cups we drink them in. Plastic builds up and is non-biodegradable, which harms our Earth by leaking chemicals into it. This, among other things, threaten the very existence of Earth and humanity itself. That is why Earth week is so important.
As stated earlier, plastic is very harmful to our Earth, but it won’t be easy to get rid of. Right now, the plastic industry is worth 1.1 trillion as of 2016, and is projected to grow to 1.2 trillion in 2020 (Resource Recycling). As of now, there is no popular alternative solution to getting rid of plastic, because we still need a packaging material to keep all of our products sterile and clean and ready for consumer use at the drop of a dime. We are a capitalist country, and our products need to be top quality to even compete on the global scale.
Fossil fuels are a large business too, as the industry is worth approximately 4 times that of the plastic industry, which would be 4.65 trillion dollars (Carbon Brief). They, in a literal sense, fuel the world. Almost all factories, cars, and heavy machinery that keeps this world in the modern age use fossil fuels to some extent.
It seems nearly impossible to take down industries like these, that turn a profit from the destruction of our world. However, since we are a capitalist nation, the people have an indirect control on what the CEO’s and manufacturers make. It works through the well known idea of supply and demand, which means that whatever the people want, the manufacturers will supply it. With that logic, if we express a distaste for all products that involve non-biodegradable plastic in any shape or form and approve the products that have sustainable and Earth-friendly packing (it doesn’t have to be the ones from InnovationExcellence), then the manufacturers, in order to keep their profits high enough, will have to make the things we want to see and buy.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t any alternatives at all, however. There are things such as stone paper (which is self-explanatory), packaging made out of mushroom roots, plant-based plastics that are all biodegradable and very sustainable, considering they are made out of plant waste that we would normally throw away. Also, if you have ever seen documentaries on TV where animals are getting caught in, consuming, or dying from suffocation due to six-pack rings dumped into the ocean, those days can be no more! An American brewery has made their six-pack rings out of wheat barley remnants (byproducts of their factorial production) so when sea life consumes them, it actually helps them! (InnovationExcellence). As for fossil fuel alternatives, a Candian startup company is making a system that can turn carbon dioxide in the air into fuel. This is obviously very sustainable, considering it is using what kills the Earth as fuel, and Earth’s atmosphere is naturally more carbon dioxide than oxygen, so we can in theory have unlimited fuel.
All in all, we must fight for the salvation of the Earth with the very thing that keeps these Earth-destroying companies alive, money. If we spend our money elsewhere, they will be forced to produce eco-friendly fuel, or shut down their businesses, and only then, will our world be saved.