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Impact On Humans

-Styrofoam contains styrene, which has proved to increase the risk for leukemia and lymphoma.

-People working in factories which produce styrofoam suffer high rates of cancer, and in females, miscarriages.

-Plastics and their toxins get consumed by fish that we eat.

-Plastic toxins, such as BPA can lead to cancers and hormonal defects.

-Humans can get contaminated with these toxins through our food, air, water, and direct contact with the plastics.

-Air pollution results from the creation of plastics, foams, and paper products and contributes to global warming.

-Shipment of boxes to consumers and to recycling centers contributes greatly to greenhouse gases.

Impact of Styrofoam

-It lasts forever, due to its chemical properties which are resistant to decomposition.

-It’s lightweight, meaning it floats on water, and is caught in the wind.

-In the production of styrofoam, up to 57 chemical by-products are released into the air, and loads of solid and liquid waste are produced that need disposal.

-Made with petroleum, which is a non-renewable resource.

-Much of it ends up in the environment, and leads to the death of around 100,000 marine creatures and over a million birds each year.

-Americans dispose of 33 million tons of it each year.

Styrofoam Solutions

-Very difficult to engineer a foam that is recyclable or biodegradable.

-One company, called Evocative Design has created an alternative that is made from fungi and is environmentally friendly, and biodegradable.

-A Stanford research project found that mealworms can eat styrofoam, although this isn’t a very scalable solution.

-Nanofoam is made of wood and acts like styrofoam.

Impact of Plastics

-plastic packaging and other non-biodegradable disposables are the most persistent and infrequently recycled forms of waste.

-Takes hundreds of years to decompose.

-95 percent of dead, beached birds have plastic found in their stomachs.

-70 percent of marine litter ends up on sea floor.

-Non-visible plastic byproducts have been found in all major oceans.

-Over 6 million tons of plastics and garbage ends up in the oceans each year.

-Greenhouse gases and toxic byproducts are created in the production of plastics.

Plastic Solutions

-Paper and other recyclable materials can be used in place of bubble wrap.

-PHA Polyesters are new plastics that resemble petroleum-based plastics, but are biodegradable.

-PLA Polyesters can be made from lactic acid, sugarcane, and wheat. It can decompose within 50 days, and doesn’t release harmful chemicals when burned.

Impact of Cardboard

-Close to 100 BILLION cardboard boxes produced each year in the U.S. alone.

-Only 75 percent of boxes are actually recycled.

-The pulping process from trees to produce cardboard uses a significant amount of water.

-While cardboard is recyclable, it isn’t necessarily sustainable.

-Shipping boxes to recycling centers produces carbon emissions.

-Recycling centers use a lot of energy and water.

-Deforestation to produce boxes is a result of increased consumerism and failure to recycle boxes.

Cardboard Solutions

-If consumerism were to slow down, fewer boxes would be needed.

-If 100% of boxes were recycled, there would be no more deforestation for boxes.

-Product packaging could use less cardboard, and products not double boxed for shipping.

-If retailers were responsible for taking their boxes back, there would be significantly more boxes recycled.

What Can You Do?

-If you purchase online, look for products that say:

Manufactured from renewable resources


Products that can be easily recycled

-Avoid buying products that aren’t recyclable.

-Always recycle when possible.

-Don’t throw trash in the recycle.

-Save boxes for future use.

-In general, never use plastic water bottles.

-Take the extra effort to help the environment.

Freelance Writer

I’m a freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Boston University. My work has been featured in publications like the L.A. Times, U.S. News and World Report, Farther Finance, Teen Vogue, Grammarly, The Startup, Mashable, Insider, Forbes, Writer (formerly Qordoba), MarketWatch, CNBC, and USA Today, among others.

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