Thursday, July 15, 2010

Styrofoam Spill

I'm facing a moral and environmental dilemma and I'm not sure what to do.
Earlier today I was ready to march up to my landlord's door, (let's call him Russell) and um, and, yes I would...well, and my plan got stuck there at inception because what would I do?
Berate him for cutting squares of Styrofoam into rounded shapes with such abandon that the Styrofoam coated the backyard, making it look as if a fake snow had just fallen? Should I point out that it's not good for his son to inhale Styrofoam? (Because, it wasn't Russell, who cut the Styrofoam, but his 16 year old son, who regularly breathes in all of those tiny Styrofoam balls into his young body as he shapes piece after piece.) Was I to cry about my small garden patch that now has Styrofoam pieces littering it? Was I to hand him facts about Styrofoam (one word: TOXIC) and suggest Styrofoam alternatives? Then ask if I could borrow one of his (many!) tools to fix something? Hi you morally bankrupt Styrofoam spilling MONSTER, can I borrow your handy box of tools?

Watch the video evidence here:



Russell owns a flower shop and he cuts A LOT of Styrofoam ALL the time, usually indoors where it flies all over the garage or his own living room and I have had enough. Enough with the Styrofoam! Isn’t there a law that bans Styrofoam or at least, only allows for one Styrofoam encounter per family, per year? Did you order take out Chinese? They gave you Styrofoam? That’s it friends!! No more Styrofoam or you will face the Styrofoam nay-sayers. Yes, they will boo and hiss at you until you decide you will not use Styrofoam anymore, or face eternal unpopularity.
After I exhausted all avenues of how best to approach Russell about his regular Styrofoam spills,  I digressed into thoughts of all of my own Styrofoam sins, including but not limited to, buying packages on Ebay that contain a mother-load of Styrofoam peanuts (which I reuse by mailing them to someone else but still), the veggie tempura “bird’s nests” I purchase at Trader Joes  are packaged in Styrofoam. I have heated noodles packaged in Styrofoam cups and accepted Styrofoam plates and cups of coffee in my lifetime. I remember that! Guilty! AND to think, if I only had an ecoguru to guide me, to intervene and say, dear, no more Trader Joe’s bird nest’s. I know you like them, but you’ve got to give them up!!! I would be appreciative, but would everyone feel the same?

My moral dilemma is exactly that, is it my obligation to say something? Anything? To play ecoguru?   Or just shut up because it’s none of my business? What do we do? Everyday, in our little quiet lives we have small moments where we can act on behalf of our earth, and perhaps completely alienate ourselves to our human friends, or remain silent and perhaps miss out on encouraging another to protect the earth?
I found myself asking myself, WWAGD, (what would Al Gore do); the earth evangelist who rose up like a great light, to lead the way! I also wondered why environmentalists, or regular folks like me who just feel a responsibility towards the earth, don’t act more like Jehovah’s witnesses or Christian missionaries? Aren’t we living in drastic times that require drastic measures? Couldn’t we send fervent tree huggers door to door to ask, not, have you embraced Jesus, but have you embraced that you are a creature of the earth? Perhaps ecoheads and envirowarriors could create environmental “churches” that sprout up across the globe, where they preach the good news but it looks more like, how to garden, how to avoid toxics, how to recycle, and for businesses, and designers, how to design a future where every item manufactured  has been made with recycling, reuse or biodegradability in mind. Shouldn’t each city have an eco church or community center if you prefer? Shouldn’t we be standing on corners next to the raving guys with signs that say JESUS SAVES! with signs that say, THE EARTH LIVES! or something much more clever?
If the earth could speak, I imagine she would like to have these sorts of fervent
missionaries work on her behalf. But perhaps we should all just mind our own business?

2 comments:

  1. Hi Marlo,
    I saw the video of the fire you posted, plus this "minor" disaster.
    It reminds me of the women, Mary Crowly, who came to the parking lot at Coit Tower to talk about being a skipper in the Sausalito Indian Navy. She told me that what she is doing now is going out to the island of plastic in the Pacific with a plastic digestor on board that she says turns the stuff into compost.

    wish I had one of those.
    Neil

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  2. Some education about the toxicity of styrofoam does seem in order.

    Having picked up many tiny bits of styrofoam at the beach, your frustration is something I have experienced first hand.

    More evidence that people are completely unaware that the consequences of their actions are killing the whole planet - toxic plastic gyres in the oceans, styrofoam that never degrades, producing paper from trees, non-renewable, polluting fossil fuels...the list goes on.

    One step at a time, like your story of pennies on BART, we can only hope to chip away at this ignorance and replace it with awareness. All very good in theory, but how to accomplish?

    In SF we have a Department for the Environment, and I bet they have some info on styrofoam that you could share with your teenaged neighbor. San Fran outlawed styrofoam to-go containers in the city, but the world at large is still able to produce it, and that is what needs to be illegal. Pennies to pick up again.

    Now many food establishments pack to-go food into plastic, another ecological offense, and another penny to pick up in the future...

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