When Big Business Trumps the Planet

alternative packaging

I have watched the environmental world around me unfold for many years. I’ve been very curious how business, the economy and the planet interact with one another. Placing profits before the planet have been silently pushed into our streams of consciousness. This is capitalism, this is the American way. We are told to support businesses because they provide jobs. In order to survive, it is okay to destroy natural resources in the name of profit. Along the way, we have not only neglected the planet, but abused it in a spectacular fashion.

The latest scientific reports on climate change reflect a grim reality for our future if we keep on the same projected path. Natural disasters will become the norm for more people worldwide instead of a once in a lifetime event. Our food supply will become threatened and our lives will hang in the balance. It’s not a future I want to further envision. I don’t write this to invoke fear, but to point you in another direction so we can do things differently. We can take action and create a better and more prosperous future.

Business, the economy and the planet are not individual players within the Universe. They are all interconnected and if one falters, so do the others. One player can’t supercede another. When these three players are in sync working collaboratively, the world can in essence be in a harmonic state. However, this has not been our reality. As a society, we have pitted businesses and the economy against the planet at large.

Is the Planet On Fire? What Can We Do?

There is something I want to point out that has always grabbed my attention. It’s the way businesses market heavily to consumers to purchase single use disposable products and then make it their sole responsibility to dispose of it or recycle it properly.

We are bombarded with advertising daily. The job of a business is to tell you that you have a problem and they can fix it for you. In the case of single use products like plastic, they are going to tell you how their products will save you time and energy and make your life so much easier.

While single use disposable products can save some time and hassle, it creates an enormous amount of waste worldwide. It’s hard to avoid seeing imagery like rain swollen rivers with mass amounts of plastic bottles flowing down them in other countries. We see turtles with plastic straws up their noses or bloated dead whales on a beach with a stomach full of plastic. This is only what we do see. There is a lot of marine life that has died in the ocean that we don’t know even about.

This is a problem that is endemic to the whole planet, not just one place. So what are we doing as a society? This is where a conscious shift must happen. We have to become aware of what big businesses are doing to the planet for the sake of their profits. They have been effectively marketing to us to mass consume and make sure we take care of all of the waste left behind.

I want to share an example of where big business has already conned us. Back in 1953, a group of businessmen from the beverage and packaging industries launched a non-profit organization called Keep America Beautiful. They created the organization to avoid government regulation and responsibility for a litter problem. Phillip Morris was a founding member in 1956. Other major investors include Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle, Anheuser-Busch, Waste Management, The Clorox Company, Dow, Lowes, McDonalds and more.

In 1971, Keep America Beautiful partnered with the ad council to create a very powerful public service announcement that most of us still remember. A character, Iron Eyes Cody was cast in the role of the “crying Indian.” He was upset by people throwing trash into the environment. This was a major campaign to make people feel responsible and to put trash where it belongs.

It was a brilliant and clever PSA and it still resonates with people today. The campaign was put into place the same time bottlers were transitioning their packaging. They learned that glass bottle recycling and the deposit schemes were less profitable than packaging in plastic. Knowing that they were gearing up to create a voluminous new waste stream, they pushed this PSA to put the responsibility of waste back on the consumer. And, they were the ones that pushed hard to start recycling across the U.S.

Currently, its projected that by the year 2050 there will be as much plastic than fish by weight in the ocean if we continue producing plastic at the same rate. The worse news is that the plastics industry will produce four times the amount of plastic in the next twenty years. Obviously, this does not bode well for our planet.

Something has to change and a new mission has to begin

I’ve created the new mission. Mission Plastic: Are you Ready for the Switch? It’s a grassroots effort focused on getting businesses to switch over to alternative packaging. Over the course of several years, I’ve created a global directory of sustainable companies. I’ve identified many businesses that specialize in designing and creating alternative packaging. The innovation already exists. We simply need to push businesses now to do the switch.

Are you ready to accept this mission? Stay tuned for more details…

Tara LaSalla

Tara is the owner of Green Me Locally which was established in 2010 with a mission to bring awareness to the surrounding community about local eco-friendly businesses, events and sustainable living. She is also a business profitability consultant and specializes in helping companies lower their environmental impact, do good things for people and the planet and become more profitable at the same time. Tara helps companies create simple, sustainable solutions and become totally green while still increasing their profits. Her core belief is that we only have one planet, so it is our obligation to start making changes for the sake of our health and the health of future generations. Tara is known for creating easy solutions for post-consumer waste and the conservation of natural resources. Her clients are inspired and empowered to lead the way to a healthier tomorrow. Tara currently resides in St. Petersburg, FL where she is an active community leader in the form of environmental and marine conservation and education. Her work with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Tampa Bay Watch and other local organizations continues to inspire those around her to protect our natural resources. She holds true to one of Mahatma Gandhi's most famous principles: "Be the change you want to see in the world."

Leave a Reply