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  • Kim

Earth vs. Styrofoam

Earth Day is a special day that brings together people from all over the world to celebrate and appreciate our planet. This year's Earth Day was no exception, and I was fortunate enough to be a volunteer for the beach cleanup at Cabrillo Beach thanks to the Cabrillo Maine Aquarium. It was a fantastic event that brought together people of all ages and backgrounds, all with the common goal of preserving the environment.


The beach cleanup was an eye-opening experience for me. As we combed through the sand, picking up litter and debris, I was amazed at the sheer amount of trash that had accumulated on the beach. It was heartening to see so many people come together to make a difference, but it was also discouraging to see just how much work needs to be done to keep our planet clean.


One thing that stood out to me during the beach cleanup was the amount of Styrofoam littered on the beach. Styrofoam is a type of plastic that is not biodegradable, which means it will never fully break down in the environment. This makes it a significant contributor to marine pollution and a threat to marine life and birds.


As I cleaned up the Styrofoam from Carrillo beach, it was evident that it was going to take a lot of effort to remove it entirely. However, events like Earth Day's beach cleanup are an excellent start. By coming together and getting involved, we can make a difference and create a cleaner, healthier planet for all.


The issue with Styrofoam is that it is easily broken up into tiny pieces and can easily be mistaken for food by marine life and birds. When they ingest it, it can block their digestive systems, leading to starvation and ultimately death. Styrofoam is also a major pollutant in our oceans, where it can remain for centuries and harm marine ecosystems.


To address this issue, in December 2022 the Los Angeles Municipal Code added a new article to Chapter XIX, prohibiting the distribution and sale of expanded polystyrene products, commonly known as Styrofoam, goes into effect on April 23, 2023. The ordinance prohibits the sale and distribution of expanded polystyrene products for businesses with more than 26 employees beginning in April 2023, and for smaller businesses in April 2024.



There are several reasons why Styrofoam is harmful. Here are some of the most significant:


Non-Biodegradable: Styrofoam is a type of plastic that is not biodegradable, which means it will never fully break down in the environment, causing it to stay in the environment indefinitely.


Pollution: Styrofoam is a major pollutant in our oceans, where it can remain for centuries and harm marine ecosystems. It is also a significant contributor to landfills, where it takes up valuable space and does not decompose.


Harmful to Wildlife: When animals ingest Styrofoam, it can block their digestive systems, leading to starvation and ultimately death. Additionally, animals can become entangled in Styrofoam, which can lead to injury or death.


Toxins: Styrofoam is made from polystyrene, a petroleum-based material that releases harmful chemicals when it is manufactured, used, and disposed of. These chemicals can leach into the environment and potentially harm people and animals.

Energy Use: The production of Styrofoam requires significant amounts of energy, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.


Environmental Justice: The manufacturing of Styrofoam often takes place in low-income communities of color, leading to environmental injustice and health disparities.

Overall, the use of Styrofoam has significant negative impacts on the environment, people, and animals. It is important to reduce our use of this material and promote more sustainable alternatives.


It's worth noting that you can no longer recycle Styrofoam in Los Angeles either. If you cannot place Styrofoam in the home recycle bin, look for a foam recycling center near you at www.foamfacts.com or through earth911.com. A local option might also be Madison Resource Recovery Facility in Santa Ana, but please call ahead to ensure this item is still accepted.


The ban on Styrofoam is a positive step towards a more sustainable future. It's important to remember that events like Earth Day's beach cleanup are an excellent start, and that by coming together and getting involved, we can make a difference and create a cleaner, healthier planet for all. We should all be mindful of our use of plastics and take steps to reduce waste and promote sustainability. Let's celebrate Earth Day every day by protecting our planet and preserving it for future generations.


Shoutout to the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium who made this beach clean up event possible. Without their dedication and hard work, this event wouldn't have been possible, and we're grateful for their efforts in preserving our environment.


If you're interested in learning more about the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium or getting involved with their programs, you can visit their website at www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org or follow them on social media at:


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