Imagine eating or drinking your coffee/tea or dinner out of a Styrofoam container. ICK! I can’t imagine, but many people do??? Styrofoam makes food taste terrible, and it is made from cancer causing material. Why would you eat/drink from it?
I am on a road trip through the southern part of the United States. Styrofoam is just the normal at many food establishments. Places I refuse to patronize.
Not only is Styrofoam unhealthy to eat on,
it is awful for the environment. It breaks down into tiny pieces harmful to oceans/lakes, water animals and fish that think it is food.
Unfortunately, Styrofoam has powerful lobbying interests behind it, people who don’t care about your health or the health of our waterways.
Beth Terry, author of My Plastic-Free Life, wrote this terrific guide explaining how producing and using plastic pollutes the air. When it comes to the foamy Styrofoam in particular, here are some other objections to using it:
It does not biodegrade. It may break into small pieces, even minuscule pieces. But the smaller EPS gets, the harder it is to clean up.
It is made of fossil fuels and synthetic chemicals. Those chemicals may leach if they come in contact with hot, greasy or acidic food. Yes, they keep your coffee hot – but they may also add an unwanted dose of toxins to your drink.
Animals sometimes eat it. Turtles and fish seem to mistake EPS for food, and that can kill them. Not only can they not digest it, but the foam could be full of poisons that it has absorbed from contaminants floating in the water.
It can’t be recycled. Some commercial mailing houses may accept packing peanuts, but for the most part community recycling centers do not accept throwaway foam food containers.
Evidence regarding the sustainability and toxicity of expanded Styrofoam/polystyrene (EPS) single-use containers supports replacing them with a more sustainable and safe material. EPS food and beverage containers are single-use, yet persistent and not economically feasible to recycle. Thus, millions of single-use EPS items are sent to a landfill each day, where they will remain for hundreds to thousands of years. Moreover, its lightweight makes it difficult to manage which is one reason EPS is one of the top litter items found on beaches and in the environment. Lastly, EPS containers may pose a hazard. Some studies have found they can leach chemicals into our food and others have demonstrated that their leachate is toxic to laboratory animals. Replacing EPS with a more sustainable material supports a healthy environment for both wildlife and people.
So what can you do?
I boycott places that use Styrofoam, but that might not be possible for you. 1.Bring your own container, or ask for a real plate, many places can provide that for you! 2. Tell establishments how awful their packaging is. 3. Work to get Styrofoam bans in your community 4. Pick up Styrofoam litter so it doesn’t end up in our waterways.
If everyone does a small part, it can add up to a lot! Speak out.
I continue to try to get everyone to think about the amount of plastic we use in our lives. Below are some ways we can reduce plastic. When I shop I constantly think how I can avoid products packed in plastic, and how to reuse any plastic I already have.
Below are some surprising facts about plastic from Thegreendivas.com and ecowatch.com
22 Preposterous Facts about Plastic Pollution.
• In the Los Angeles area alone, 10 metric tons of plastic fragments—like grocery bags, straws and soda bottles—are carried into the Pacific Ocean every day.
• Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
• 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away.
• Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times.
• We currently recover(recycle) only five percent of the plastics we produce.
• The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year.
• Plastic accounts for around 10 percent of the total waste we generate.
• The production of plastic uses around eight percent of the world’s oil production (bioplastics are not a good solution as they require food source crops).
• Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year (source: Brita)
• Plastic in the ocean breaks down into such small segments that pieces of plastic from a one liter bottle could end up on every mile of beach throughout the world.
• Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.
• 46 percent of plastics float (EPA 2006) and it can drift for years before eventually concentrating in the ocean gyres.
• It takes 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade.
• Billions of pounds of plastic can be found in swirling convergences in the oceans making up about 40 percent of the world’s ocean surfaces. 80 percent of pollution enters the ocean from the land.
• The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located in the North Pacific Gyre off the coast of California and is the largest ocean garbage site in the world. This floating mass of plastic is twice the size of Texas, with plastic pieces outnumbering sea life six to one.
• Plastic constitutes approximately 90 percent of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile.
• One million sea birds and 100,000 marine mammals are killed annually from plastic in our oceans.
• 44 percent of all seabird species, 22 percent of cetaceans, all sea turtle species and a growing list of fish species have been documented with plastic in or around their bodies.
• In samples collected in Lake Erie, 85 percent of the plastic particles were smaller than two-tenths of an inch, and much of that was microscopic. Researchers found 1,500 and 1.7 million of these particles per square mile.
• Virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form (with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated).
• Plastic chemicals can be absorbed by the body—93 percent of Americans age six or older test positive for BPA (a plastic chemical).
• Some of these compounds found in plastic have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects.