Social and Environmental Justice: Intro (1/4)

Since the tragic murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin and the subsequ...

Social and Environmental Justice: Intro (1/4)

Since the tragic murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin and the subsequent resurgence of Black Lives Matter protests, we at Sana Packaging have been discussing how to appropriately address topics such as racism and inequality. It felt like we should say something; the cannabis products we make sustainable packaging for are inextricably intertwined with our nation’s long and ugly history of racism, cannabis prohibition, and the war on drugs. After witnessing the continuation of these horrific events around the country, including the shooting of Jacob Blake by police officer Rusten Sheskey in Kenosha, Wisconsin this past weekend, remaining silent is no longer an acceptable option.

As a sustainable packaging company, however, we want to be respectful and acknowledge our peripheral role in this discussion. While we are actively engaged and support these movements as human beings and citizens, as a company, we do not operate in the same realm as the incredible social justice activists and organizations that fight these fights every day. We think establishing this context is important because the last thing we want to do is give the impression that we’re trying to insert ourselves into a discussion or space in which we don’t necessarily belong.

Keeping all this in mind, we want to do our best to support disenfranchised people and communities in a way that is authentic, true to our personal and company values, and within our (admittedly small) sphere of influence: by drawing attention to how social justice and environmental justice are inextricably linked.

We see a major need for sustainable packaging for cannabis products, partly because we recognize the countless inefficiencies in our current recycling and waste management systems. As with many other systems in our country, these inefficiencies have had a disproportionately negative impact on low-income communities both in the United States and around the world. The extra waste being dumped in low-income communities, where there is often a lack of adequate healthcare services, is a public health crisis. And this crisis is exacerbated by the fact that many of these same communities are also disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, police brutality, and the many other social justice issues that our country is reckoning with.

One of the unfortunate consequences of our rush to globalize is that rather than focusing on developing more efficient recycling and waste management systems here at home, it has become cheaper to pollute other countries with our waste. We have observed a disturbing trend of companies from the United States choosing to dump their waste in other parts of the world. This has disastrous effects on developing countries that don’t have the infrastructure to safely dispose of the waste or the healthcare capacity to deal with the fallout. In short, these businesses are ignoring the big picture impact their actions have on community-building and the environment, and the disproportionate impact their actions have on economically vulnerable communities both globally and locally.  

We believe it is important that we do our part to reduce excess waste not just because of the impact it has on our environment, but also because of the disproportionate impact it has on our low-income and disenfranchised communities. Our goal is to tie this discussion into a larger conversation about how environmental justice issues are directly tied to social justice issues. Over the next few weeks, we will explore the inefficiencies of our recycling and waste management systems and the negative impacts they have on both people and the environment. We will also explore how and why Sana Packaging uses materials such as plant-based hemp plastic, reclaimed ocean plastic, and other innovative materials to manufacture our products and how these materials tie into the concepts of environmental justice and social justice.

And of course, it wouldn’t be a Sana Packaging blog series without exploring how environmental justice and social justice tie into another topic near and dear to our hearts: circularity and the principals of a circular economy. We have explored what circularity looks like in previous blog posts, along with how we are striving to achieve this community-oriented and locally-based economic system, and we are excited to continue building on this conversation. As a society, we need to value people and the environment more than profits. Preserving our planet’s fragile ecosystems and ensuring social and economic prosperity for current and future generations are one and the same. We all have a lot we can do to improve, so let’s work together to create a future we can be proud of.

Written by: Galen Kuney, Sana Packaging Intern