Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Portland, Maine Close to Banning Styrofoam

Portland, Maine's City Council took a bold step Monday. They have directed a committee to draft an ordinance banning the sale of plastic foam in the city. The full story is here.
Image linked from original found at:
Of course, in the comments section the vote has been pilloried by those who don't believe in government regulation, and predictably by those in the plastics industry.

I've added a comment of my own, as follows:

"I've been collecting and recording man-made plastic garbage blown & washed into local beaches here in Saco and now Biddeford for the past two years. The amount of styrofoam that blows up and down the coast and swirls in the oceans is sickening. Especially when there are biodegradable -- and often reusable -- options.

Styrofoam is one of the more toxic plastics to create. It's one of the more toxic plastics to incinerate. Worse, it's an example of exceptionally poor design. One gust and it blows away. (Out of hands, trash bins, dumpsters, and landfills.) One misplaced step and 1 foam cup explodes into 100 foam pieces that all blow their own way. It's so light and airy that it's not economically recyclable to any Materials Recovery Facility, including ecoMaine.

We pretend styrofoam is cheap. But that ignores the cost of safe waste disposal, city cleanups, storm drain/sewer backups, ocean cleanups, economic loss due to blight, and harm to wildlife -- including some of the endangered animals that we claim to love & respect. Every bit of foam that's ever blown away is still there. More every year. It doesn't go away. Nothing is known to digest it or break it back to its building blocks. Paying little now so our kids and grandkids can pay more later? Talk about "mortgaging our future."

There is plastic debris in all the ocean gyres of the world. It washes up on the most distant, pristine, beautiful places on the globe. And it washes up here in the Gulf of Maine. I applaud the effort of Portland's City Council to say "enough" to even part of the scourge."

If you agree that banning styrofoam is a step in the right direction, please drop a comment yourself!


  1. Excellent post! Thank you for all you do. My husband and I have been following your lead and pick up and carrying out as much plastic trash as we can whenever we go to a beach (most often Crescent Beach in Cape Eliz. I also pick up plastic when I walk in my neighborhood which borders a lake and a brook. I think stryofoam is especially harmful to wildlife because of the teensy bits it breaks into that can be ingested all along the food chain.

    1. It's spooky, when you start looking for it, how much of it you see, everywhere. After the big storm a couple weeks ago the entire dune line at Bay View was just blanketed in styrofoam. Some big chunks, countless little flecks. And it's so unnecessary! I haven't visited Crescent Beach in a couple years, must make a little run up there at least once this summer.

  2. Well Harry, if you ever dispair and think you do not make a difference....

    I used to travel with little plastic disposable razors. Now I say, nope, Harry would disapprove. I take along my reusable option or just get shaggier. And, being lucky enough to live in walking distance of all essentials (library books, beer, groceries and hardware) I have an assortment of cloth bags. Paper or Plastic? Neither. And if walking means I can carry less, well, I don't need that much stuff....but I do need another hike downtown in a day or two.


    1. Senor Wolter! I'm humbled! Thanks, the timing of your comment was, well, awesome.

      I find myself talking to myself (probably too much) about little next steps. If I try to make too many changes, it gets to be a chore & I rebel. But one at a time here or there -- switching from the disposable razors, say -- that's in the realm of possible, even oddly fun.

  3. YES!!! You are so articulate. I just love reading your comments, posts, etc. Rigth behind you and ME all the way!!