January 15, 2015

Banned! New York Kicks Styrofoam Garbage out of the Five Boroughs.

Styrofoam trash

This week, New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, announced a city-wide ban on the sale and distribution of single use Styrofoam products, effective July 1st, 2015.

Styrofoam, the trademark belonging to the dubious Dow Chemical Company, is chemically known as EPS (Expanded Polystyrene).

New York City has opted for membership in a very elite club.

With Local Law 142, New York has now joined the growing list of cities across the United States that have already banned single use Styrofoam. There are approximately 100 cities and counties that have made this boldly responsible decision to eliminate one of the most hazardous materials that haunts our daily lives.

Although New York was not among the first cities to ban Styrofoam, let’s face it—New York always has been and always will be a trend setter. When New York burps, the rest of the world listens.

The sheer volume of trash created by New York City makes this an incredibly impactful decision. This ban will keep some 30,000 tons of Styrofoam from contaminating New York’s already bludgeoned ecosystems. That’s seven-and-a-half pounds for each one of New York’s 8.5 million vibrant souls.

Styrofoam does not weigh much, that was the whole point of creating it as a packing and packaging material, in the 1940s. I cannot even begin to imagine what a mountain of 60 million pounds of Styrofoam looks like.

It makes me want to become a super hero, Vacuum Man, with arms that stretch out for hundreds of miles, sucking up all the toxic waste and spitting out reusable shopping bags, reusable bottles and shiny green bicycles.

Without getting too scientific, Styrofoam sucks.

The process of manufacturing Styrofoam and the detriments that come from its use make it one of the most faithful contributors to keep climate change moving towards the gradual obliteration of life on earth.

Styrofoam is almost impossible to recycle safely and is not biodegradable. It does not go away. Ever.

It breaks into small pieces which are highly skilled at contaminating soil, air and water, as well as creating a deadly hazard for marine life. It’s also helpful to know that when we use EPS as food and drink containers, chemicals can leach into whatever we are consuming, affecting, among other insignificant organs, our reproductive systems.

Public policy is a vital and necessary element in doing everything that we can to bring climate change to a screeching halt.

New York City and Mayor de Blasio should be commended for creating this monumental legislation.

However, if we really want to reduce our carbon and karmic footprints, it comes down to personal choice.

We need to ban disposable products from our lives.

Nancy Reagan got us hooked on “Just Say No” (although not all of us did) and we can recycle that slogan and repurpose it for these new drugs that are destroying our lives—plastic bags, disposable cups, food containers.

These are the drugs that are actually killing us. Today.

Disposable products are made for one purpose only—convenience.

We can say no to this junk, clean up our lives and clean up the world.

We have been conveniently tricked into believing that disposable is bliss. I like to carry in my backpack what I call my survival kit: a reusable shopping bag, two or three reused plastic bags, a small container for food, a spoon and a travel mug.

When I don’t have these things on hand, I just say no. We can all make the choice to de-convenience ourselves and create less garbage. New York is doing it, so can we.


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Author: Peter Schaller

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: flickr, flickr

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