Introduction and Thesis Statement
What is Styrofoam? Styrofoam is actually a trade name of a polystyrene foam product used mainly for housing insulation and craft applications, but can be seen elsewhere. The scientific name for Styrofoam is polystyrene. It is a petroleum-based plastic made from the styrene monomer. Polystyrene is a lightweight material with insulation properties and is seen in products such as cups that keep beverages hot or cold all the way to packing material that keeps items safe wild being shipped across the world. Styrene is a very toxic waste product, continuing to cause health concerns and environmental problems.
Recommended Resolutions for the Leaders of the Local Social Institutions Family: Parents nowadays, are unaware of the items they are buying for their family. As children grow older, they naturally take after their parents roles. If parents are purchasing products that contain Styrofoam their children are more likely to proceed in the same direction. Children assume that since there are polystyrene products everywhere around them that they would be safe. Parents do not realize that when they go out and purchase items that contain polystyrene products they are putting not only the environment, but their family in danger.
Parents could spend more time finding and purchasing items that contain plastic or paper rather than polystyrene. Even products that are unwrapped or wrapped in non-polystyrene products will help with the health concerns for their children. They could then take even further action by explaining the negative effects to their children and show them other ways they could go by. For example, instead of using a Styrofoam cup at home, they could use a reusable container. By being aware of the harmful products, they can spread the news by word of mouth, slowly reducing the amounts of polystyrene being used in our everyday society.
Churches: Pastors, priests, rabbis, and other spiritual leaders of our local churches can also do more to prevent the use polystyrene in the community. During the service, there is usually a time when the children depart their parents and go to a small group to learn about their religion. During this time, there is usually a creative activity using arts and crafts. More and more crafts are involving Styrofoam pieces, which seem fun and safe for children to use, when in actuality it is extremely harmful. Small children think that polystyrene is soft and squishy, having a tendency to put it in their mouth. Not only can this be a choking hazard, but also a start of an unhealthy lifestyle.
Instead of using Styrofoam during these small group sessions, they can stick to paper or plastic products. This would not only decrease the amount of waste, but also keep children away from the dangers of polystyrene. Another example of styrene being used in churches is the get together between families after the service. There is usually a table put out for the congregation with coffee and doughnuts, which most always includes a Styrofoam cup to keep the coffee hot on the way out. By replacing the cups with reusable or plastic cups or have people bring, they are eliminating waste products, and also keeping society healthy.
Schools: Schools all around the world use polystyrene products all day every day. The main concern is the Styrofoam trays being used during lunch. Each day the children are being exposed to the chemicals benzene and styrene. When hot food is placed on the Styrofoam tray, it leaches into the hot foods and can cause problems in the central nervous system. Some of the problems include symptoms such as depression, headache, fatigue, hearing loss, and weakness, and can cause minor effects on kidney function and blood. The problems are a major concern in schools around the world considering children are being exposed to polystyrene each and every day. Some children are even being exposed to the harmful chemicals more often by using these trays twice a day, for breakfast and lunch.
The known risks of children’s health should be eliminated. The members of the boards of education, administrators, and faculty of our schools are responsible for the development of their students. Knowing that they are satisfied with giving out foodon styrene trays is horrific. They are leading an example that Styrofoam is safe, when in all actuality it is the complete opposite. The price of polystyrene is cheap, only 3 cents a tray! Just because the price of the product is cheap, does not mean that the future doctor bills of growing youth will be.
By raising the amount of funds the school cafeterias may use would eliminate a tremendous amount of issues for the attending children. Using a paper tray is just as easy to use and get rid of as a polystyrene tray, but a few cents more expensive. There are also sugar-cane trays, or plastic reusable trays could also be used, only needing the funds to support the soap and labor to keep them clean. The health of the youth should be more of a concern than the price of an individual tray. Administrators around the world should be taking action in depleting the chemical use of Styrofoam in their schools and should demand toxic-free school meals as well.
Government: Regulation of polystyrene use is at an all-time slim. The government has not done much to reduce the amount of Styrofoam being used. Every day there are packages being shipped around the world with polystyrene keeping the products safe. The polystyrene could be replaced with another type of material that benefits the products in the same way. The government has the ability to ban the use of Styrofoam in every day society, but they choose not to because of how lightweight and cheap the material is. The government can also increase the budget for schools to deplete polystyrene usage. These products are made with petroleum, which is a non-sustainable and heavily polluting resource.
The use of hydrocarbons in polystyrene releases the hydrocarbons into the air at ground level, which is a serious air pollutant when it is combined with nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight. This is causing people who are exercising while the ozone levels are at or above the standard to have chest pains, coughing, wheezing, or pulmonary congestion causing their immune system to break down. All of these health concerns could be eliminated by the government if they were to ban the use of Styrofoam products. Many cities and counties have already outlawed the use of polystyrene foam, so why not ban it everywhere.
Businesses: Every day I go to work as a server and notice vast amounts of polystyrene being used. So many people are clueless to the dangers and the negative effects of the product they are using. Just yesterday my close coworker made a hot tea with a few lemon slices in a Styrofoam cup, I told her to never use the product again. Her being almost thirty years of age, still did not know the health concerns of polystyrene. I explained to her that when the hot water is in the cup, it is actually breaking down the styrene and with each drink she takes, she is digesting the toxic substances, Styrene and Benzene into her bloodstream. Not only does the warm food or drink break down the chemicals, but alcohol, oils and acidic foods do as well causing a risk to one’s health. Knowing this, she had doubled the amount of the chemicals being broken down and digested into her bloodstream by adding the lemons to her tea.
There are also suspected carcinogens and neurotoxins that are extremely hazardous to humans. A few hours later, I had seen the same woman boxing up her customer’s food in a Styrofoam box which is given to us to use by the management. It was then; I thought I should say something to my manager about how many risks polystyrene has on our health. We could change the situation by asking our administration to package with alternative supplies. There are available supplies made from materials such as post-consumer recycled paper or corn-plastics. Styrene is not only used in the restaurant industry, but used extensively in the manufacture of plastics, rubber, and resins. I had read that about 90,000 workers, including those who make tubs, showers, and boats, are exposed to styrene. Some of the effects include irritation of skin, eyes, gastrointestinal, and upper respiratory tract. Managers and owners should resolve the problem while they are ahead to keep their employees from future illnesses.
Mass Media: People around the world are unaware of the dangers that polystyrene can cause in their everyday life. Those in control of the advertising can do more specific things to stop the use of polystyrene and resolve all of the health concerns. They could do this by showing more advertisements on television stating the unknown facts about polystyrene. Not only can they advertise the information by television, they can spread the words by the radio, newspaper articles, or billboards. If more of society knew about the health issues that come along with using Styrofoam products, there would be less amounts used, and less pollution around the world. The landfills space of plastic, by volume, is between 25-30 percent, which could be a lot higher considering that Styrofoam space by volume is 60-65 percent.
When the polystyrene is sent to the landfill, it is quickly covered which is depriving the waste of water and oxygen which would help it to break down. Most of the disposable packaging that id shipped eat, or drunken from today will still be around in five-hundred years from now. Since the polystyrene foam is lightweight, it can float and also has the ability to be blown from the disposal sites even when it is disposed properly. The polystyrene can travel easily through gutters, storm drains, and eventually reaching the ocean. It is estimated that every square mile of ocean hosts 46,000 pieces of floating pieces of polystyrene. The floating pieces then become harmful to animals, including the sea creatures and birds around the world. The material is notorious for breaking up into pieces that choke animals and clog their digestive systems. Mass media is surrounded by advertising of products, why not Polystyrene?
Personal Recommendation: Finally, I personally can add a few more things to inform people of the negative effects polystyrene foam can produce. While we still can recycle polystyrene, the market for recycling is shrinking every day. Many people hear that their recycling agencies will not accept the Styrofoam products. A reason behind this is because polystyrene recycling is not a “closed loop.” For example, the polystyrene cups are not remanufactured into cups, but into other products such as packing filter. Both could be replaced with some other type of material reducing the amount of resources used and pollution created to make more polystyrene cups. Knowing this, we should eliminate the usage of the product so we can keep a safe and friendly environment for everyone.
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