Our world is awash in litter, with a monstrous gyre of floating plastic swelling in the Pacific Ocean, bottles and cans cluttering our roadsides, and blighting even the most remote and beautiful Chesapeake Bay islands and wetlands.
One response to this: more than 100 cities and counties across the U.S. have banned Styrofoam cups and food containers. These included the District of Columbia last year, along with suburban Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
The Styrofoam industry and take-out food retailers, however, have been fighting back – launching a PR campaign and “Go Foam!” website. The anti anti-foam forces prevailed in the Maryland General Assembly last winter, halting a bill that would have banned Styrofoam statewide.
In Baltimore, the crusade against what is more formally known as expanded polystyrene – a petroleum product-- is being led by a pair of students, Claire Wayner and Mercedes Thompson, both seniors at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.
“A lot of the students that we’ve talked to especially see Styrofoam as this particularly malicious form of trash,” Wayner said. “Because whenever we do litter cleanups, you try to pick it up, and it just breaks apart, and you can’t get it out, physically. So it’s ruining our ecosystem and it’s an eyesore for the Inner Harbor. So we need to get rid of it.”