There is a bit of controversy over California’s eminent ban on Styrofoam (bill “SB 568″ by Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) – at least if you’re a certain type of restaurant owner who does a lot of take-out, or a Styrofoam to-go container manufacturer. Anyone else surely sees the benefit in outlawing a product that is toxic to produce, releases the known carcinogen styrene and doesn’t break down or decompose ever, in any way.
My vote is obviously for banning Styrofoam. California often leads the rest of the country in cutting-edge environmental law and has great influence in shifting not only political and public views, but also corporate opinion and policy.
Interestingly enough, this bill doesn’t actually ban or outlaw Styrofoam at all. In fact, if your community recycles 60 percent of its Styrofoam, you’re off the hook. Huh. What exactly does that mean – “community”; “recycled Styrofoam”? I know how to recycle and be green in hundreds of ways, but I haven’t the first idea how to recycle Styrofoam or where to do it.
Having said that, a ban of any measure is better than no ban at all, and in an article on this subject, Scott Cooney used a term that is new to me and one that really resonated for me: “green collar jobs”. By this I take him to mean those jobs formerly in production of all manner of toxic stuff: plastic bags, plastic bottles, Styrofoam, lead-based paints and Polaroid film, to name a few; that are now (as in the case of the Polaroid factory that now manufactures solar panels) literally less physically toxic to the people performing them.
One of the big arguments against California’s Styrofoam ban is that it will cut jobs. But that’s just a nonsensical cover-up for some other agenda. The jobs will just shift from producing non-degradable to-go ware to compostable or recyclable to-go ware. In fact, the green industry has already created thousands of jobs just in the eco-friendly restaurant-ware sector alone.
If even a partial ban, affecting only a part of California’s Styrofoam-using population, pushes us further towards “green collar jobs”; less non-decomposing, petroleum-based trash in our oceans; and more awareness of our very fragile environmental position, I’m all for it.
What about you?
- Jocelyn Broyles
Headline image © Vince LaConte