Shipping in 2021 is now not just a small part of the business. eCommerce is now one of the major parts of the economy thanks to all the business shutdowns by the government. It is simply a new way to attempt to stay employed and millions of people are starting companies trying to survive. What this means is that they are now using packaging supplies more than ever.
This has made the world has become increasingly smaller and people are now able to get items from all across the world. This has been marvelous for economic reasons and allowed many places in the world to thrive where their local economies would not allow it. It has also had some detrimental effects on different areas including the environment. In particular, the use of cardboard has been increasing not only in the last few years but centuries. It was created in the 1700s and slowly become the leading item for packaging supplies in the world. The United States per household throws away roughly 13,000 separate cardboard boxes every year. Those numbers are based before the pandemic and now I would imagine that number is easily doubled and maybe even tripled. That number will most likely increase due to the covid-19 pandemic. Now since most Americans are forced to stay at home we are ordering more from online stores and being shipped our items in cardboard boxes. It has become possibly its own pandemic in a way due to the excess amount made and the inability to dispose of it properly.
This all ties into a big issue of the creation of this product. It is not surprising that a fact that will blow the average individual’s mind is that the amount of energy used to create cardboard. If the amount of cardboard that was thrown away each eBay was instead used to heat houses. Let’s put that into perspective. Then 50 million average households would have the energy to heat their homes. That amount is staggering and it shows that we spend more on creating cardboard than we most likely should. In the United States alone we throw away 850 million tons of paper and cardboard. That number is staggering to me and what that really means is that 1 billion trees were most likely cut down to create that amount of waste. This means that the average American uses 7 trees all on their own just in paper waste.
So let’s get into this, for me personally, that would mean I would cut down every tree on the property I own in one year. This for myself would be unsustainable because it would take 40 years to get my trees to grow back to the same size and that number and time involved is hard to wrap my mind around. The amount of waste we are creating and the amount of energy we are spending to create that waste is most likely not sustainable. If we could instead recycle every amount of paper we might be able to slow the degradation of our tree population down. This at the very minimum should be what we all do. So keep in my the need to recycle and try to do so with your paper products. The environment needs this and our planet needs this.