Friday, December 12, 2008

Don't Bring Home the Polystyrene Foam

At a beach cleanup recently, we spent about one third of our time picking up broken up bits of Styrofoam (expanded polystyrene foam)cups along the dunes. Those little pieces end up in the ocean and look like food to the critters, so we spend the time. As far as all of the various plastics go, Styrofoam is particularly heinous- food service Styro is totally unrecyclable, it's about as light as air so it blows around and breaks apart, it's made with Styrene and Benzene- a suspected carcinogen and known neurotoxin, it's about as single use as it gets. The argument: it insulates well. Agreed. But as with everything, it comes down to cost benefit, and I don't see, even for one slow second, how the benefit of bringing home one third of a leftover burrito in a Styrofoam clamshell container outweighs the long-term cost to marine life, the environment and public health. I took a picture of it to show at a city council meeting. In Monterey we are fighting for an ordinance requiring restaurants to use compostable or recyclable food containers.

I love this gift I received from a Surfrider WestLA/Malibu Chapter Activist, Laura Boccaletti, when I presented there a few months back. Well done! We use it to table at our beach cleanups now. If you do beach cleanups, this would be a great project to put a creative person in charge of, make one of these, bring it to cleanups, and talk about why...