By now, you’ve probably seen the pictures.
You know the ones. A sea turtle entangled in a pile of garbage. A seahorse with its tail wrapped around a Q-tip. A bird with a six-pack ring stuck around its beak.
Just this week, an autopsy done on a whale that died in Thailand found nearly 17 pounds of plastic inside its stomach, including 80 plastic bags.
In Austin, a group of environmental activists have decided to take action. On Wednesday, Environment Texas (a local nonprofit organization) officially launched its Wildlife Over Waste campaign.
The goal? To pass a statewide ban on single-use Styrofoam food containers. Along the way, they’re also hoping to work with local restaurants, encouraging them to take the lead and stop using Styrofoam voluntarily.
ThunderCloud Subs has actually already agreed to phase out their Styrofoam cups by the end of the year, although a ThunderCloud spokesperson said that this effort was already in the works before Environment Texas launched its campaign.
A little bit more about plastic pollution, Styrofoam, and oceans…
The problem with Styrofoam is that it doesn’t naturally decay. Instead, it breaks down into tiny pieces called microplastics, which are then easily eaten by wildlife.
According to Environment Texas, plastic pieces have been found in 86 percent of sea turtle species, nearly half of all seabird and marine mammal species, and in almost half of the sunfish in the Brazos River.
“Polystyrene containers are designed to be used once,” said Luke Metzger, executive director of Environment Texas. “We shouldn’t allow a product used for 5 minutes to pollute our environment for centuries.”
(Polystyrene is essentially just another word for Styrofoam.)
And now, a little bit more about the campaign…
The first step in passing a statewide ban on single-use Styrofoam is convincing the state government to actually allow it in the first place. In 1991, the Texas Legislature passed a law that prevents cities from creating their own Styrofoam bans.