Polystyrene (more commonly known by the DOW trademark name Styrofoam) is a special kind of foam insulation made from petroleum that's found its way into a wide array of products. This popular polymer is found in array of products, and unfortunately its popularity has led to the material filling up our landfills and oceans. A considerable amount of polystyrene waste comes from typical shopping bags and water bottles, but there's also a considerable percentage of waste that comes from packaging materials. Biodegradable packaging solutions are important. Too much waste comes from unnecessary polystyrene packaging material, and some people don't see the devastating effects it has on our environment.
Recently environmental groups have been extolling the dangers of plastic packaging, so much so that it seems like some have forgotten about the problems polystyrene can cause. Polystyrene products usually aren't recycled, and when it is the results aren't as eco-friendly as some would imagine. The polymers that make up polystyrene get 'down-cycled', and the material salvaged from the recycling process is of considerable less quality than the original and isn't fully biodegradable.
Since polystyrene isn't biodegradable it can cause a lot of trouble when it's released into the natural environment. The material itself is very light and surprisingly aerodynamic, so it can easily be blown away into gutters and storm drains even when it's disposed of properly. Polystyrene is also very brittle and usually breaks down into small pieces, and those small pieces often end up in the stomachs of animals that unknowingly eat the material. Many animals end up dying from ingesting the polymer, either from choking on it when it's first eaten or by starvation. Polystyrene lobbyists encourage the reuse polystyrene packaging products. Reusing packing peanuts and other packaging materials can somewhat reduce the amount of polystyrene materials that end up in landfills, but that does nothing to curb the large amount of polystyrene used in food packaging.
You Are What You Eat
Environmentally friendly eating may be popular now, but it isn't a new trend by any means. Some vegetarians and vegans choose to avoid animal products for dietary reasons, but many avoid meat and dairy because they choose to avoid foods and products that are harmful to the environment. Many people who are concerned about their eating habits negatively impacting the environment shouldn't be so concerned with the food their eating, but rather what kind of container is carrying their food. Many restaurants and supermarkets use polystyrene containers to store food, and that packaging can be just as bad for the environment as factory farming and pesticide overuse.
Biodegradable packaging made from pulp can be just as effective as packing made from foam polymers, and they won't stay in landfills for centuries. If you want to do your part to help the environment, talk to your local businesses about using biodegradable packaging. Your request for eco-friendly packaging could end up keeping a lot of polystyrene waste from hurting the environment.