When we place an order for something online, how often is it delivered to us in a cardboard box? Almost always, right? Whether it’s food delivery, a must-have from Amazon, or a monthly subscription box, our necessities come wrapped in cardboard and paper. While our paper packaging demands increase, our forests are paying the price.
According to Canopy Planet, “Three billion trees are logged for packaging each year, many of which come from ancient and endangered forests.”
Ever since COVID-19 hit, there has been a surge in online shopping which has increased the demand for packaging materials. The forest dilemma didn’t start with the pandemic, as online shopping has been on the rise for years. However, it wasn’t just hand-sanitizer and toilet paper regularly delivered during the crisis. Forbes published this article at the height of the pandemic, noting that “home goods, athletic goods, and loungewear are three categories wherein e-commerce brands are seeing record-breaking sales numbers.”
OK, maybe we are all guilty of going a bit stir-crazy and deciding to redecorate our homes, bodies or minds with a little click of the “order” button, during this time. Some of us thought we were doing good by trees by ordering used books instead of new books, but then after a few deliveries, the boxes began to pile up, which leads us to our next dilemma.
Many recycling facilities across the country are facing severe impacts from the pandemic. Facility closures, suspended curbside recycling programs, financial challenges and workers testing positive for the virus are a few of the issues that Waste Dive highlights in their recycling disruption tracker. This disruption is completely understandable given our current situation, but it means that it’s also likely that in several states, despite best efforts, cardboard will actually end up in the trash.
Many of the things we buy locally are wrapped up in boxes, sometimes even a box within a box. While e-commerce makes the situation worse by adding shipment packaging, even buying a blender, a pair of shoes or a set of lightbulbs uses cardboard to package the products sold at our local stores.
Also, as many companies and restaurants have steered away from single-use plastics, paper products have become the go-to alternative. It seems our efforts to stop one evil, created another in the process. It’s not just pizza that comes in a cardboard box anymore. Many restaurants are now primarily using cardboard boxes and paper bags for takeout and leftovers, putting even more pressure on the paper industry and our old growth forests.
The upside is, there’s hope.
Canopy Planet’s Pack4Good Campaign
Canopy Planet is a non-profit, solution-based organization working with large companies to eliminate ancient and endangered forests from their packaging and support next-generation solutions in their Pack4Good campaign.
Pack4Good focuses on optimizing recycled content and reusable shipping boxes while decreasing the use of paper and cardboard for packaging materials.
As of early June 2020, eleven large companies partnered with Canopy and joined the Pack4Good campaign, including some of our favorite fashion icons, Ted Baker, Stella McCartney and Mara Hoffman. Other fashion companies, including Aritzia, Elk, Lindex, prAna and Varner (which includes nine fashion chains including Levi’s Stores), have also joined the fight against old-growth forests ending up in single-use packaging.
Thankfully, fashion isn’t the only sector interested in joining this initiative. Newly joined non-fashion industry partners include Telus, Tensei, NER and CV Studio.
Learn more about the Pack4Good Campaign here.
What You Can Do:
- Spread the word about the Pack4Good campaign to your local businesses or write to your favorite companies. Canopy already has solutions set in place – all we need to do is get more businesses on board to make a greater impact.
- When possible, skip the ship! Many stores are offering curbside pickup for items beyond just groceries.
- Consider brands in partnership with Canopy. Learn more about the new companies that recently joined the campaign here.
- Use household products that have sustainable packaging, like Seventh Generation’s new 100% recycled shell or shop zero-waste sites like Eco Collective that focuses on products with very little packaging.
- When things get back to normal, consider dining in, instead of taking out. And bring your reusable mug to the coffee shop! While these may not be options at the moment, it’s worth keeping them in mind going forward.
Featured image from: TripSavvy