ROOM FOR A PONY

Exploring what life could be like if we weren't buried in clutter, burdened with too many possessions, and surrounded by chaos.

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We’re all eating Styrofoam

June 6th, 2013 · No Comments · Consumer Issues, Decluttering, Disposability, Packaging, Polystyrene

See the big blocks of Styrofoam cluttering up your garage or basement. Does the thought of taking a big bite out of one of them repulse you? Surprise! — we’re already essentially doing that.

Styrofoam, a brand name for polystyrene, takes 500 years to decompose. When we throw it away, it doesn’t break down in the sense of rotting. As far as our little lifetimes are concerned, all it does is break apart, into smaller and smaller chunks, then smaller and smaller particles, until it becomes a fine dust. Being extremely light, it’s carried by air into the rivers and oceans, where it mingles with the plankton and looks exactly like it. The fish can’t tell it apart, or if they can, there’s no way they can ingest one and not the other. So if you eat fish, you’re eating styrofoam.

But if you think you can avoid it by avoiding fish (which contain the crucial Omega 3 fats, among other nutrients), you’re going to have to quit all that breathing too, since it floats right on into your body when you inhale. Why wouldn’t it? It’s lighter than all those pollens and dust mites and all the other junk we inhale all the time. We can’t filter it out of our respiratory systems any better than the fish can.

And you’re going to have to give up drinking anything at church coffee hour. Every single Sunday, churches all over the nation hurl billions of styrofoam cups into the trash after serving up bad coffee and fake orange juice in those awful cups. Not to pick on churches, but come on, how holy is that? Of course, far outrunning churches in styrofoam use, we have all the business meetings that happen all day, every day, where beverages are slurped. Schools use polystyrene cups and plates daily in their lunch rooms. And of course take-out food services use them constantly.

Portland (my love) is one of more than a hundred U.S. cities that have banned styrofoam food packaging in restaurants. In other words, polystyrene containers can no longer be used for take-out food. But that doesn’t mean it’s not still being churned into the landfills by the businesses, schools, grocery stores and churches.

Anybody need a mission? Feeling stumped about how to “make a difference”? It’s a project that could lead to greatness (not yours, silly, the environment’s). Make it small or make it big. If it feels too huge to take on your whole city, start with whatever organization or institution you belong to, and STOP THE STYROFOAM!

For those of you secretly wondering “but why can’t I eat styrofoam?” I’ll explain that in my next post. And in my next next post, I’ll tell you where to take those big stupid blocks filling up your garage. I hope you haven’t put them in the trash already.

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