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Letters/My View

January 26, 2013

Rethinking the use of Styrofoam

To the editor:

Polystyrene is everywhere.

If you purchase your morning coffee on the go, it is the holder to your morning cup of coffee; the cup for the soup you have at lunch; and even the clam shell container you have your supper in. It’s used by many consumers.

So what is it, Styrofoam or polystyrene? Styrofoam is actually the trade name of polystyrene, which is a petroleum-based plastic.

Polystyrene is a lightweight material used in all types of products — from cups that keep your beverages hot or cold, to packaging material that keeps your computers safe during shipping. Polystyrene foam presents unique management issues because of its lightweight nature, floatability, and likelihood to be blown from disposal sites even when disposed of properly.

As a result of the impact on marine pollution and adverse effect to marine wildlife, several coastal cities across the United States have banned the use of polystyrene food packaging altogether. More than 100 U.S. and Canadian, as well as some European and Asian cities, have banned polystyrene food packaging as a result of the negative impacts to humans and the environment.

So if this product is so toxic, why are we still using it in our everyday lives? Should we rethink our takeout habits to avoid it?

How do we save our marine animals and ourselves if we are not offered a choice?

PATTI AMARAL

Clean City Initiative

Gloucester

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