Previously I’ve spoken about the basic plastic we find in water bottles, plastic bags, or plastic utensils. In this post I’m introducing a type of plastic that has an enormous amount of power and is affecting our oceans and world with no pros in sight. “Expanded polystyrene foam”, aka styrofoam, is a common product used at restaurants for packaging take-out food, or for plates and cups. Styrofoam can also be found in packaging for shipped items, to protect your purchases from damage. However although it presents many useful opportunities, it also contaminates our seas and world in intoxicating ways.
Like plastic, styrofoam shares a common con in that it does NOT biodegrade, instead it photo degrades. Meaning it breaks down into really small pieces of plastic, even microscopic, but never fully breaks down. Meaning its quite permanent once it floats into the sea 😦 It can also be consumed by hungry marine life and clog digestive systems, or choke an animal, in the end one way or another having a fatal outcome.
Other than the fact that styrofoam is a convenient way to package item or in general a useful product, styrofoam is a common and popular product do to it’s cheap price to make it. This makes it very likable to restaurants or companies that are looking for a cheap way to package and sell their goods. If I go to amazon.com and look up “Styrofoam cup”, I can buy 102 8oz cups for $7.49. That’s pretty cheap, and considering I’m not a company buying in large amount of product that would definitely lower the price because of how much I would need to buy for my restaurant/company. Why would a company use a different way to package that’s going to cost them more? After all, they’re in the business to make money, (yes, I understand that many companies use alternative ways, but I’m looking through the view of evil styrofoam customers). Well, in the near future something is going to have to change, or we’ll be in big trouble.
Finally, what you can do to help! To avoid contributing to the global phenomena of styrofoam here are some tips!
- When you order take out, ask to have your food not packaged in styrofoam, some restaurants have an alternative, although it may add a small fee.
- If at party/event where they’re serving the food in styrofoam cups/plates look for a different option, and if no opportunities emerge maybe try talking to the host, just a small suggestion could go a long way!
- If you’re going out to eat, and you know you have a habit of having leftovers, bring your own container just in case the restaurant doesn’t offer a no-styrofoam option.
- Always discourage the use of styrofoam and encourage a recyclable option, sometimes people just need input!
- Try to limit yourself to buying large packages often that require stuffing and protection
Although almost all of these can be slightly uncomfortable or seem like a lot of effort, just think if enough people do it, maybe we can diminish the use of the horrible product! Plus if you’re following these steps you know you’re being loyal, people will admire you and your efforts, I definitely do! If San Francisco can ban styrofoam by 2017, we should be able to too! (New article on this accomplishment coming soon).
It’s important to take the extra steps to protect our world and save it while we still can. I hope you find this post useful and helpful! Just think, you can contribute to a spectacular movement!
Thank you for conserving our oceans!