I Hate Styrofoam

Styrofoam/polystyrene. It is breaking into small pieces and could last forever!

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,

How can we do better than this? We need a sustainable alternative

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.

Below is from 5gyres:

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.


Simple things You can Do

Find a place to recycle your bottles, cans and paper.
Say “No” to plastic bags!
Bring you own shopping bag

We now have plastic in our water and in the fish we eat. Do we really want to put plastic fibers into our bodies every time we eat and drink?

I have three simple thoughts about litter and recycling today: First, countries that have less plastic have less litter. Second and third, if everyone would recycle more, and change the plastic bag habit, it would make a big difference on our planet.

Here is an interesting plastic comparison for you.  This is based on observation during the past month while I have been travelling through Central Asia and Iran. Central Asia uses very little plastic except for black plastic bags for purchases and plastic bottles for soda.  Iran by contrast uses lots of plastic. Beside plastic bottles, restaurant food, hotel towels, and many things that don’t need to be, are wrapped in plastic. Plastic cups and straws are used in Iran, but I saw none in Central Asia. Where would you guess there is a terrible litter problem? The contrast was enormous.  I brought Iranian plastic home to recycle.

Governments clearly need to become aware of the problem, and businesses like Coca Cola need to take more responsibility for the plastic they produce.

While I was thinking about this I came across an excellent essay by ECOwatch with great suggestions for everyone (see below) But keep it simple and by recycling and reducing  plastic bags you can make a big difference on our earth!

From Ecowatch:

  • Complain to retailers. Pressure retailers to do away with over-packaging.
  • Support plastic bag bans, polystyrene foam bans and bottle recycling bills.
  • Use natural clothing fiber rather than synthetic clothing, as synthetic cloth releases plastic fiber in every wash cycle.
  • Choose to reuse. Neither plastic shopping bags nor plastic water bottles can be easily recycled.
  • Deposit return schemes are highly effective ways to reduce plastic bottle waste. In Germany, where a bottle-return program is in place, nearly 98 percent of plastic bottles are returned.
  • Recycle. If you must use plastic, try to choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE), which are the most commonly recycled plastics.
  • Avoid plastic bags and polystyrene foam as both typically have very low recycling rates.

When It Comes To Plastic

Lake Superior and all lakes are precious, protect them!
Lake Superior and all lakes are precious, protect them!

Yesterday I was at the public library in Superior, Wisconsin.  I was impressed with an educational display by Wisconsin Coastal Management . They had a large display of trash that a student group had picked up from a one day beach trash pick-up from a local Lake Superior beach.  Ideas from the trash collected created an educational poster for the public. Plastic breaks into tiny bits, is eaten by our fish, and probably will last hundreds of years, maybe forever!

This is their excellent education piece:wp-image-493016558jpeg.jpeg



Plastic bag floating in Lake Ochid

I was traveling through Eastern Europe when I read on Ecowatch.com that Macedonia had banned plastic bags. Macedonia was our next stop and I couldn’t wait to see if it made a litter difference.
As we took the bus into Skopje, Macedonia we saw people carrying purchases in plastic. We were disappointed. I interviewed 3 people that could speak English.  They claim an effort had been made to ban plastic bags, but “It didn’t work !’ They say the bags they now use are eco friendly.  They couldn’t explain what that meant. No one was paying a fee for the plastic bags, and I never saw a paper bag. Macedonia is a poor country with high unemployment and a terrible litter problem. Before a bag ban could work an enormous amount of public education would be needed.   I don’t think the economics of store owners nor the public is ready for such a big project to be successful .


Thousands of plastic bottles were floating down the Vardar River to the Aegean Sea.


Could this be an eco bag ?

As I have said before on these pages, the manufacturers of plastic need to be responsible for the recycling and clean up of their products.  Many countries don’t have the resources to do what is right for our earth, even though it should  be a top priority.


Bottled in Macedonia
I hope environmental groups will take Macedonia off their bag ban list. Being accurate is so important.


Sick, Unhealthy Lakes

Buffer strips along lakes protect water quality.
Buffer strips along lakes protect water quality.

Minnesota is home to over 10,000 lakes. We love our lakes. Unfortunately, we don’t take personal responsibility for protecting the beauty and health of our precious lakes. One of the most popular lakes is covered with trash, and it has become impossible to educate anglers (Are they listening?) of the invasive species their boats carry from lake to lake.
In late June, I was biking through southern Minnesota and was appalled to see algae and milfoil covered lakes. Sometimes they look weedy in August, but this was June?

The largest Minnesota newspaper published an opinion piece about what is happening to our lakes. The authors think the lakes of southern Minnesota are a lost cause, but they think more should be done to keep northern lakes clean.  I think with tougher rules and strict enforcement all lakes can be kept healthy and usable. It is a matter of political will and setting priorities. With tougher rules and strict enforcement all lakes can be kept healthy and usable. At the bottom of this post there is a list of things I do on my lake property to protect water quality.

Unfortunately, agriculture was given a pass on the Clean Water Act and they should be better regulated.  Agricultural run off is a real problem, but everyone needs to do better.  This is the only water we will ever have and we should respect and value every water body.


Brian Peterson • Star Tribune If 75 percent of lakeshore remains mainly forested, the chance of maintaining lake quality is good, said Peter Jacobson of the state’s Department of Natural Resources. But when natural cover falls below 60 percent, lakes begin to deteriorate.

The opinion article:  “There is no mystery about what is needed: a built environment that harmonize with nature rather than defying it”  http://www.startribune.com/from-runoff-to-ruin-the-undoing-of-minnesota-s-lakes/321099071/

Is this how lakes should look?
Is this how lakes should look?

Requirements all lake shore/stream property owners should follow:

*Buffer strips of plants and trees along the shoreline. Absolutely no mowing down to the water.

*If there is no sewer available, lake shore properties should be required to maintain a sewage holding tank.

*Wash boats and equipment with hot water before entering a new lake with your boat.

*Reduce or eliminate the chemicals you use in your home, yard and water.

*Recycle, pick up trash and never litter.

*Never never burn garbage.

Two letters from the editor on the same topic: http://www.startribune.com/readers-write-aug-16-minnesota-s-lakes-planned-parenthood-payday-lending/321926671/ 


Pick up One Piece of Trash a Day

This trash could end up in our lakes and oceans breaking into little pieces that last many years.
This trash could end up in our lakes and oceans breaking into little pieces that last many years.


The snow has melted, the sun is shining, it is time to pick up litter from the winter. Carry a bag with you to pick up trash. It makes our world look SO much better, and it keeps trash from washing into our lakes, streams and oceans.

Pick up One Piece of Trash a Day  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pick-up-One-Piece-of-Trash-a-Day/267910856667805?fref=nf



A landmark new study shows there is 30 times more plastic entering our ocean than previously estimated. http://www.oceanconservancy.org/

Take 3  https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=867945456577550&fref=nf    Take 3 minutes to pick up trash and what do you find?

Talking Trash Tuesday

Avoid plastic, fill your glass or metal bottles with water or other liquid
Avoid plastic, fill your glass or metal bottles with water or other liquid

Talking Trash Tuesday

Please take a reusable bottle with you today, and say “No” to plastic!

Today I start my new series on trash that should be recycled!  In 2015 there is no excuse that recyclables fill our landfill trash cans.  I am guilting everyone into recycling more. Because this is World Water Week, I am worried about the plastic that fills our water bodies.  Plastic makes up 80% of the trash found in the ocean.   This plastic could be part of the ocean forever breaking into little tiny fragments ingested by fish and other sea life and eaten by us??

From our homes to our workplaces, schools, supermarkets, shopping centers and places in between, plastic is everywhere. But what happens to all that plastic when it reaches the end of its useful life? Some is recycled, while the rest ends up in landfills, incinerators and the environment. A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme — Valuing Plastics: The Business Case for Measuring, Managing and Disclosing Plastic Use in the Consumer Goods Industry — encourages us all to take a more holistic and sustainable look at this most ubiquitous of materials.  http://ensia.com/infographics/how-do-you-solve-a-problem-like-plastic-pollution/

This is an excellent video about the marketing of plastic:

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10153735969475884&fref=nf  The story of bottled water




Trash along the shore of the Caribbean
Trash along the shore of the Caribbean