26 January, 2011

Say no to polystyrene !


I would get pretty upset if I see my food served with polystyrene eateries.

I've noticed quite a number of times that, 3 out of 5 stalls at the makan places I always "haunt" are using polystyrene eateries.

Anyone who has even the most basic knowledge in environmental sciences would know that polystyrene is not environmental friendly and takes only-God-knows-how-many-years to biodegrade (that is, IF it's even degradable!).

Let's do some mathematics. Say, in Area S there are 50 stalls selling a variety of food. Out of these 50, 30 stalls are utilising polystyrene utensils. If one stall is able to sell a minimum of 30 servings per night (assuming that 1 polystyrene plate/bowl is used per serving), then 30 stalls would be selling 900 servings per night. Which means, at least 900 plates/bowls are being disposed of per night; 4,300 plates/bowls in a week; 27,000 in a month and 324,000 in a year (take-away polystyrene containers, plastic spoons, forks and bamboo chopsticks are excluded). Assuming that there are 10 eating outlets in Kuching City alone, then at least 3,240,000 plates/bowls will end up in the Mambung dumpsite per night.

Can you imagine the amount of polystyrene rubbish we Kuching people produce? I cannot find an exact photo of polystyrene utensils piling up, but I guess the photo below would suffice. Simply replace those big polystyrene boxes with polystyrene plates and bowls, and imagine yourself standing there looking at that pile of rubbish.


Still not convincing enough?

We cannot deny that polystyrene products in the food industry are considered sanitary, sturdy, efficient, economical and most importantly, convenient (source). However, at the same time, polystyrene is found to be not environmental friendly, and worse still, it could be a health hazard:

  1. Toxic chemicals leach out of these products into the food that they contain. These chemicals threaten human health and reproductive systems.
  2. These products are made with petroleum, a non-sustainable, heavily polluting and disappearing commodity.
  3. The product does not biodegrade. It crumbles into fragments that have no expiration date.
  4. A certain percentage of product will be dumped in the environment, persisting on land indefinitely as litter and breaking up into pieces that choke and clog animal digestive systems in waterways.
  5. The product takes up more space in landfills than does paper and eventually will re-enter the environment when landfills are breached by water or mechanical forces.
We as Earth's residents are responsible for all kinds of environmental pollution, which in the end affect us in return. For the food stall operators who still prefer to use the polystyrene -- please stop being so selfish. For customers who prefer to take away their food in polystyrene containers -- perhaps you would consider bringing your own container; it's more hygienic and you have less rubbish to be thrown out. For those who enjoy sitting down and enjoying the food right there and then, we can avoid ordering food from those using polystyrene utensils, or better still, bring our own utensils.

For more information on plastics and polystyrene: Polystyrene Fact Sheet, Dangers of packaging chemicals getting into food.

2 comments:

WireBliss Design (Mei) said...

I think bringing our own utensils can be considered but where are we going to wash them after we are done. Kind of 'mafan' to bring some dirty utensils around while shopping...LOL
Happy New Year Ms. Shark!

Fish said...

Yo, hi Mei!

LOL, well, I have seen people doing it, so not impossible. They simply keep the dirty dishes in green bags. I've never heard them complain so far. It all boils down to how willing you are to contribute towards the environment.

Happy new Year to you too Mei!

Design | Elque 2007