Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Reinventing Our Relationship With Styrofoam

Ask my son what my thoughts are on Styrofoam, and he'll let you know: Evil Styrofoam!

Styrofoam, a common name tho really a brand name for polystyrene foam, is everywhere: cups, plates coolers, and more. It's far from eco-friendly in that it never biodegrades. Never... as in not ever. Nor is it recyclable, despite the little recycle symbol with the #6 on the bottom--a common misconception among people who sometimes think if the symbol is there, then certainly it's recyclable.  Additionally, polystyrene is also one of the leading causes of marine debris.

Given that, it begs the question: why is it still even a thing in this day and age.

As time and awareness continue on, more innovation is on the way. Additionally, so are Styrofoam bans. Given that, I'm proud of nearby Baltimore, who's City Council voted unanimously this February 28th, 2018 to ban Styrofoam in restaurants. Violations could lead to a $1000 fine.
"We look at all the litter in our waterways. It's not biodegradable. It's not actually being recycled," said Councilman John Bullock, the lead sponsor of Bill 17-0117. "For the most part, it's ending up in landfills or being incinerated. In water, it breaks apart into small pieces, which makes it very difficult to clear up the water and dangerous for wildlife."
Check out Groundswell's 2014 map of all the areas in the United States that have banned Styrofoam. Likewise, you can find an incomplete listing (though huge in and of itself) updated to approximately 2016 (and self-advertised as not updating regularly at the bottom of their list), check out the list of Polystyrene Ordinances at

Additionally, this article from Story of Stuff has some interesting pointers on what you can do yourself!

But...what about all that Styrofoam stuff that's already out there? 

Well, some people have some ideas!

This Attn. video featured below summarizes Ashton Cofer's 6 minute TED Talk from December 2016... and his innovative plan with how we can repurpose Styrofoam. Additionally, Ashton does an exceptional job of highlighting the importance of the design process!

Cheers to the young leaders, innovators, and game changers who are out there making an environmental difference! May we all follow their lead!


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