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|Written by Jackie Bloom|
|Thursday, 24 April 2008 19:00|
Everything is wrong with styrofoam. You know, that white junk that you toss aside after it's held your coffee or your take-out food? For starters, we aren't even supposed to call it styrofoam – that's a trademark name, owned by the Dow Chemical Company, for blue-coloured insulation and flotation materials.
We're supposed to call it polystyrene, and that's important to know. Because when you punch polystyrene into a search engine you find out just how hideous it really is:
• It's almost never recycled, and even when it is, it becomes a non-recyclable product which then ends up in our landfills
And what about the sheer ugliness of it? Styrofoam take-out containers, smudged with the grease of take-out food and the dark stain of coffee, poke out of overflowing garbage bins at the food court. Replicate that image thousands of times, and that's what Ottawa – just one city – is trucking to the dumps every day. Then the ugliness gets worse – there it sits, belching up pounds of methane or other obnoxious garbage gasses, displacing what otherwise might be a serene natural or human habitat.
Honestly, I've always thought that the use of styrofoam – let's just call it that, everyone else does – was so outrageous that somebody else would make it stop. But I guess it's like that famous murder in New York City; apparently dozens of neighbours witnessed it, yet nobody took action to stop it. Everyone thought someone else was going to.
And try as I might to avoid it, I'm complicit. Every once in a while, I forget my coffee mug or my little bowl, and I grab a little slab of concave-shaped styrofoam.
I suspect that there are a lot of people like me, who’d really like not to use that stuff but who just get caught – at least sometimes – in the flow of the disposable world. So I'd like to suggest a two-pronged campaign to start to get rid of this stuff forever.
First: exit denial. If you don't already keep your used styrofoam containers in a guilty pile in the corner, do so starting now. And then, make a styrofoam sculpture to call attention to this junk – or, to at least give it a little life before it heads off to kill wildlife. You could let (Cult)ure Magazine know when and where you have built a sculpture, and we could send someone to photograph it. Maybe there could be a prize for the best one!
Second: make it stop. Talk to owners of outlets that use styrofoam, and ask if they have thought of alternatives (I actually spoke to the owner of Marcello's some months ago, and he said that he was looking into possibilities for reusable bowls, but I never heard about it again). And then, think about some way to have a really good, concerted campaign on this, and let (Cut)ure Magazine know. The journey of a thousand miles.....
© 2008 Jackie Bloom; licensee (Cult)ure Magazine.