Plastic pollution is killing our wildlife. That’s why Environment America is starting campaigns simultaneously in 24 states, from coast to coast, to ban harmful, single-use plastic food containers.
Polystyrene, commonly known as Styrofoam, is one of the worst and most common types of plastic. According to the EPA, Americans throw out 70 million polystyrene foam cups every day, and that doesn’t include bowls and takeout containers. Tons of our discarded plastic ends up in the environment -- on our lands and in our waterways. More than 8 million tons end up in our oceans every year, the equivalent of five plastic bags for every foot of coastline.
Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, but instead breaks down into tiny pieces called microplastics which are ingested by hundreds of different species. So much plastic pollution has escaped into our environment that multiple giant masses of plastic are floating in the world’s oceans, including one plastic garbage patch twice the size of Texas in the north Pacific.
“We’re not only polluting our oceans, we’re also polluting rivers and lakes across the U.S. Our plastic pollution problem starts here; it destroys our local environment first. We need to act,” said Steve Blackledge, senior director for Environment America’s “Conservation America” campaign.
From now through August, Environment America canvassers will be knocking on more than 1.2 million doors; conducting nearly 700,000 conversations; and collecting more than 300,000 petition signatures to educate consumers, business owners and decision-makers about plastic pollution, and urge them to support statewide bans in two dozen states.
The Wildlife Over Waste campaign will build on strong, pre-existing local response to the threat of plastic pollution. Already, more than two hundred municipalities from coast to coast have banned polystyrene containers in some form. To eliminate these harmful and unnecessary plastics once and for all, state governments need to do start doing the same.
“With the many, safer alternatives that exist today, we don’t need polystyrene, or any single-use plastic for that matter,” said Alex Truelove, the director of U.S. PIRG’s “Zero Waste” campaign. “We need to ban these unnecessary and harmful plastics that are destroying wildlife in order to shift towards better alternatives.”
“Polystyrene containers are designed to be used once. We shouldn’t allow a product used for 5 minutes to pollute our environment for centuries. It’s a poor choice and states need to join the list of good actors who are addressing this problem,” concluded Blackledge.