It Started Like This...
is something we use and see every day but don’t realize its negative presence. Styrofoam is created from benzene, along
with several other chemicals, which is a petroleum product (i.e., non-sustainable, heavily polluting, and scarce) and a known
carcinogen. Pentane, which is also used in the creation of Styrofoam, contributes to urban smog and global warming. Styrofoam
does not break down but lasts virtually forever.
few recycling companies will recycle Styrofoam so the majority of the time it gets shipped to a landfill where it takes up
a considerable amount of space. It breaks into small fragments, which can choke animals; over 100,000 marine animals die per
year from Styrofoam and other plastic trash. Styrofoam covers more area in landfills than paper products do and will eventually
enter back into the surrounding environment by water flow and wind. Additionally, millions of tons of polystyrene get incinerated
and end up as airborne toxic ash.
just in case water contamination and clouds of toxic ash are not valid-enough reasons to convince you to bring in your reusable
mugs, then maybe the potential health effects of Styrofoam will have an impact. Polystyrene foam has chemicals that leach
out into the food or liquid (e.g., acidic coffee) they contain. Styrene was found in 100 percent of all samples of human fat
tissue taken as part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Human Tissue Survey
in 1986. There it can build up to levels that can cause reproductive problems, fatigue, nervousness, difficulty sleeping,
blood abnormalities and even carcinogenic effects.
people who make polystyrene foam are most at risk to contract these harmful effects. Even McDonald’s phased out Styrofoam
packaging for its hamburgers in 1989 in favor of the paperboard containers. Without any regulation on the production and sale
of polystyrene products, the only way to stave off its negative environmental and health impacts is to act locally, one mug
at a time.