The packaging industry goes unnoticed in the public discourse. And yet it has an immense impact on our behavior.
From the ubiquitous plastic shopping bags to the intricate packaging on consumer products, and the centuries-long-lasting container for one-time-use take-out products, America seems to love convenience more than they love the planet.
As with so many inventions of the 20th century, Plastic is an amazing substance able to bring untold marvels to society with advances in medicine, industry and technology. And yet, is there any restraint to its application?
Plastic is the third largest industry in America behind cars and steel. The material is so common we hardly notice it. But consider the amount of plastic generated every day as take-out containers. Consider how many plastic bags (doubled) are dispensed every day in shopping centers around the world. What national initiative would change those numbers and what resistance would be felt and from whom?
Every industry is in a fight for survival and every industry has lobbyists in Washington. Who represents the oceans? The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a mass of plastic the size of Texas floating in the open ocean. In Hollywood, when a filmmaker meets with agents, they call it the "water bottle tour" because every meeting is accompanied by a conciliatory bottle of water. When did the plastic bottle become the currency of hospitality?
What is the narrative that allows for this incomprehensible amount of waste? The packaging industry has an adage that the harder it is to open a package, the more valuable the contents are perceived to be. Back to the easily manipulated consumer unable to observe that convenience and expediency are not the only metrics to determine the validity of a product.
Why did Tropicana switch from the cardboard carton to plastic bottles? How can Organic produce buyers possibly justify purchasing eggs and greens in a plastic container? What level of narcissistic madness possesses the modern citizen?
Plastic: A Toxic Love Story by Susan Freinkel