AUSTIN - Plastic pollution is killing our wildlife. That’s why Environment Texas is announcing a new campaign 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. Scientists have found plastic fragments in literally hundreds of species, including 86% of sea turtle species, nearly half of all seabird and marine mammal species, and almost half the sunfish in the Brazos River.
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. Concentrations of plastic debris are as high in the Gulf of Mexico as in the Pacific. Texas beaches have more plastic trash than any other state.
“We’re not only polluting our oceans, we’re also polluting our local creeks and lakes. Our plastic pollution problem starts here, it destroys our local environment first, and we need to act,” said Luke Metzger, Executive Director of Environment Texas.
From now through August, canvassers for Environment Texas will knock on more than 35,000 doors in Austin, distributing thousands of factsheets and collecting thousands of petition signatures to educate consumers, business owners and decision-makers about plastic pollution, and urge them to support a statewide ban.
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. Unfortunately, in 1991 the Texas Legislature took away the right of cities to ban polystyrene. The Legislature needs to restore the right of cities to eliminate these harmful and unnecessary plastics once and for all.
“With the many, safer alternatives that exist today, we don’t need polystyrene, or any single-use plastic for that matter,” said Alex Truelove, Zero Waste Campaign Director. “We need to ban these unnecessary and harmful plastics that are destroying wildlife in order to shift towards better alternatives.”
Environment Texas also announced it will work to get Texas businesses, starting with ThunderCloud Subs, to follow the lead of McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts and stop using polystyrene.
“Polystyrene containers are designed to be used once. We shouldn’t allow a product used for 5 minutes to pollute our environment for centuries,” concluded Metzger.
Environment Texas is a citizen-based advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future.