Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I hate Styrofoam!

Styrofoam... There are no two ways around it, I simply hate the stuff. Fast food restaurants sometimes use it for containers for food and drinks. Getting a to-go box at a sit down restaurant will also typically earn you a Styrofoam clam-shell. Coffee? Have a foam cup.

But it gets worse. Unboxing electronics, or furniture that needs to be assembled will usually leave you with a pile of large Styrofoam blocks to dispose of. Of course those blocks are too big to put in a trash bag in one piece, so you have to break them up. But doing so results in a shower of tiny Styrofoam spheres that go everywhere and stick to everything due to their static charge.

But as bad as the mess can be, the worst part by far is that Styrofoam takes a long long time to break down. If it is litter that is out in the open it breaks down quicker (though causes other problems). Erosion time can be anywhere in the hundreds to thousands of years. It will get brittle from sun exposure, so it can be crushed and turned to crumbs of dust sooner than that. But if you stomp on a Styrofoam cup after a few month and  are left with a bunch of little pieces that blow away, does really count as it being gone? Not in my opinion. Quite often, those little pieces wind up floating in some body of water.

But left to it's own devices, free from sunlight and other outside forces Styrofoam can take at least a million years to completely break down. The best case scenario in a landfill is that it gets crushed into crumbs that break down after 500 years. But with the potential for it to be taking up space, the toxins it contains, each square mile of ocean containing 46,000 pieces of floating plastic, and the fact that it wastes petroleum, why is it that we use it for anything other than what we have to?

Styrofoam, while very good at many things has become a blight. There are far more materials that we can use that are either biodegradable, or are much easily recycled. So I hope I see the day where the use of Styrofoam becomes much more of a rarity than it is today. Until then, I will continue hating Styrofoam.

-Brain Hulk

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