In an effort to reduce single-use plastics that continue to pollute our streams, beaches and ocean, California cities and counties are taking action by enacting Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Foam reduction ordinances. To date, more than 114 local governments across the state have adopted foam bans. On the South Coast, the City of Carpinteria has had a ban on foam take-out food containers in place since 2008, and in November 2017 voted to expand it to include a ban on the retail sale of certain EPS products like cups, plates, and disposable foam coolers. Channelkeeper is currently working the City of Santa Barbara and other South Coast municipalities to encourage them to follow suit and address this pervasive pollution problem.
Foam is one of the most common forms of plastic pollution found on beaches in the US. It is harmful to wildlife that can accidentally ingest it and to the manufacturing workers that produce it, and currently is not viably recyclable. Polystyrene and expanded polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, can be identified by the number “6” on cups, lids, cutlery, take-out containers and more. Styrene is a known animal and probable human carcinogen and is ranked the 5th worst global industry for toxic waste production by the EPA. See below for opportunities to get involved locally.
Ways to Take Action!
1) Support Local Foam Bans
We can take definitive action to address plastic pollution by adopting local foam ban ordinances – but we need your support! Channelkeeper is collecting letters in support of local foam bans to send to our elected officials.
Copy the text below into an email and send your own support letter to Channelkeeper.
Dear Mayor and Councilmembers/Board of Supervisors:
I am writing to voice my support for an ordinance to ban food service expanded polystyrene (aka EPS or Styrofoam).
Polystyrene is the most common form of pollution found on beaches worldwide. This type of litter breaks apart into small pieces that are blown around easily by the wind, making it one of the most difficult types of litter to clean up. An ordinance decreasing the amount of EPS distributed in our community could provide numerous benefits, including:
- Reduction of EPS foam in urban litter
- Reduction of EPS foam that reaches local waterways and the ocean
- Reduction of materials that cannot be recycled or composted
- Reduction of associated clean-up costs
- Preservation of marine wildlife and ecosystems
I strongly urge you to take action to stem the tide of plastics polluting our beaches and ocean by adopting an ordinance banning EPS food service products.
CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE
2) Say no to disposable plastic and yes to reusables!
In addition to going foam free there are many other ways to reduce your use of single-use plastic which include avoiding products in plastic packing, reducing where possible by reusing and refilling containers, refusing plastics the frequently escape as litter like straws, to-go cups, utensils and balloons and recycling what cannot be avoided. See below more additional information about some of these options.
Skip the Straw
Americans use and dispose of 500 MILLION plastic straws a day! Simply say no thanks to the straw or bring your own reusable straw. There are many great reusable straws available these days including glass, metal, silicone or even bamboo reusable straws. You can also ask businesses that you frequent to provide straws only on request and to consider more environmentally friendly options like paper or compostable straws in place of plastic straws.
Reusable Cups and Topless 4 the Ocean
We all love a good cup of coffee or tea, but did you know that your coffee cup lid is most likely made out of polystyrene? Foam coffee cups are made of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), commonly known as Styrofoam, that is basically polystyrene that has been expanded with air. Americans use more than 25 BILLION of these cups each year, most of them with a polystyrene lid. Reusable cups are the best alternative and there are many options available, but if you forgot your reusable mug consider going topless for the ocean (a great 5 Gyres campaign) and taking your beverage without the styrene lid.
Bring your own reusable cutlery for outings and when you know you have to take food to go. There are great options available from cute kits complete with fork, knife, spoon and chopsticks or you can simply bring your own metal cutlery. If you order food for take out and do not need the plastic cutlery that is often automatically placed in the bag, let the business know you don’t need the utensils and encourage businesses that you frequent to provide plastic cutlery on request.