Each year, humans around the world generate about 300 million tons of plastic, only about 2% of which gets recycled. Because plastic isn't biodegradable, all the plastic that has ever been made keeps accumulating, clogging up the environment, the oceans, and endangering wildlife.
An increasing part of this burden comes from the fact that so many things are individually packaged and discarded. In the United States alone, an astonishing 2.5 million disposable water bottles are used each hour.
For many environmentalists, the convenience factor that comes with all of this packaging is totally negated by how wasteful and damaging it really is.
Blogger Michelle Cehn of World of Vegan recently visited a Whole Foods store in Oakland, California and was appalled when she peeled, pre-packaged mandarin oranges for sale.
Cehn's photo was shared thousands of times, catching the attention of a representative from Whole Foods who quickly apologized and assured that they would no longer be selling oranges without the most appropriate packaging, its natural peel.
The day after the apology from Whole Foods, the photo took on a life of its own when it was tweeted by Nathalie Gordon, an advertising creative from London.
"If only nature would find a way to cover these oranges so we didn't need to waste so much plastic on them," she quipped. At the time of this writing, Gordon's tweet had been retweeted over 65,000 times.
While the direct problem of pre-packaged oranges may have already been solved at this point, it sparked an important international dialogue about balancing environmentalism with accommodations for those with disabilities.
Many agreed that taking away the natural packaging just to replace it with plastic for the sake of convenience was a bad call, though others brought up the point that some people have disabilities (like arthritis) that make it difficult to peel oranges or use a knife.
This is a fair argument, although other Twitter users were quick to point out that the packaging used for the oranges isn't exactly designed with these people in mind. Others suggested a happy medium, by requesting that the store peel oranges for those who need help aren't able to peel it on their own.
Wherever you sit on this debate, we can probably all agree that selling a peeled packaged orange is a heck of a lot better than this:
Correction (3/12/2016): An earlier version of this article credited Nathalie Gordon as the original photographer, not Michelle Cehn/World of Vegan. The article has been corrected. We thank Ms. Cehn for alerting us to this error and for taking the photo that began such an important dialogue.