Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Scourge of Styrofoam

I was at a big public event recently where styrofoam plates and cups were being used. The guy next to me in the food line saw me looking at my plate and exclaimed, "When are they finally gonna make it illegal to manufacture this stuff? We all know its bad."

I was thinking of that guy and the styrofoam when I read this week's Science News, where a story appeared about new research on just how bad styrofoam pollution has become in the Pacific Ocean. The most discouraging quote came from Bill Henry of the Long Marine Lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “Plastics are a contaminant that goes beyond the visual,” he states. Yes, but the visuals are pretty bad, too. A photo accompanying the story shows a boy on the beach in Japan standing next to a huge thing that looks like a white boulder, which turns out to be a big blob of styrofoam. (The product breaks down in sea water, floats around, and then washes up again on the beach.)

When are we going to get around to banning that stuff???

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