This is a guest post from the Surfrider Foundation.
Why would we eat out of an environmentally-harmful and potentially toxic food container? Many communities have already acted to outlaw expanded polystyrene foam (commonly known as StyrofoamTM) takeout ware in their hometowns, but why shouldn’t this type of action be taken on the statewide level? The sustainable strategy of banning foam takeout ware has proven tried and true in over 50 municipalities in California alone. Now is the time for the state of California to make the switch!
Why the environmental community cares
Our streets, neighborhoods and parks are plagued by plastic pollution. Not only does this litter wreak havoc on our land-based environmental and recreational resources, but they are also entering our stormdrains, streams and rivers running to the ocean and leading to harmful marine pollution. The overwhelming amount of plastic pollution leads to persistent trash in our oceans and contributes the ocean gyres full of trash. Foam particles are always amongst the leading items found at Surfrider Foundation beach clean ups because the foam particles break into small pieces that are easily blown by the wind.
Surfrider Foundation and Clean Water Action have established an environmental coalition to support statewide action in California to protect our environment California statewide Senate Bill 568 was introduced by Senator Lowenthal to protect of fragile marine resources. The bill prohibits food vendors from dispensing cooked food in polystyrene foam or StyrofoamTM food containers. SB 568 will reduce the amount of polystyrene foam litter in the waste stream and the environment. The coalition has also come up with factsheets and information on how to get involved in the issue.
Why you should care
Foam food containers are harmful to human health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has classified styrene as a reasonably anticipated human carcinogen. Styrene migrates from the containers into food and beverages when heated or in contact with fatty foods. Scientists have found styrene residues in the fat tissue of 100% of all sampled humans – every American is exposed through food packaging. Workers in polystyrene product manufacturing are also exposed to many harmful chemicals that lead to increased risks for lymphoma, leukemia, lung tumors, pancreatic cancer, as well as neurotoxicological effects.
Join the movement to expand the trend to phase out foam. Many restaurants have recognized their responsibility to act as good stewards of the environment and have voluntarily moved away from foam packaging. However, there are many more that have not switched to sustainable and healthier food packaging alternatives. You can help: sign the pledge to refuse foam take out ware at your local restaurants and ask the California Restaurant Association to support progressive statewide legislation to switch to healthy and sustainable foodware alternatives.
Photo from Cee Kay's Pix via flickr