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Styrofoam and Its Staggering Effects on the Environment

Styrofoam and Its Staggering Effects on the Environment

Each year an estimated 430,000,000,000 Styrofoam and single use plastic containers/utensils are tossed in the trash worldwide. 74,000,000,000 styrofoam cups and plates are thrown in the trash every year in the United States according to the EPA.

That is a lot of styrofoam! So, what exactly makes single-use plastics and styrofoam so appealing?

They are disposable! No cleanup! Out of sight out of mind! But the truth is that these “one use wonders” have negative long-lasting impacts on the environment and wildlife that call it home.

Styrofoam does not break down fully.

Styrofoam is made from chemicals-fossil fuels to be exact that can leach if they come into contact with some types of food. Not to mention animals such as sea turtles and fish have been known to mistake the small pieces of Styrofoam for pray. Not only can this lead to the animal’s death, but the chemicals and toxins in the styrofoam can be absorbed into the animal’s bloodstream which in turn can bioaccumulate up the food chain affecting larger marine life even humans.

 

Styrofoam cannot be recycled.

These are ways that Styrofoam is harmful to the environment. So, what is being done to address the issue? States across the country are slowly jumping on the “Styrofoam Ban Wagon” realizing the negative impacts that styrofoam and plastics can have on the environment.

  • Secaucus, Jersey City and Rahway are three New Jersey municipalities that have had bans in place since 2011.
  • Grocery store, German company Aldi does not supply bags. Customers bring their own or must pay a small fee to purchase one.
  • Coffee giant Dunkin Donuts which is best known for its trademark styrofoam cups is slowly phasing them out with the transition being complete by 2020 as stated in a NJ.com article dated February of this year.

 

If changes such as this have not been implemented in your area, there are simple steps individuals can take to assist in mitigating styrofoam:

 

By making these small changes and having conversations that advocate for businesses/government to make bigger changes we can begin to make the shift away from the harms of styrofoam into a happier, healthier future.