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.
-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.
-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.
-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.