Say NO to Foam
August 2, 2019 AD&V
Big pile of trash with foam

SAY NO TO FOAM

Foam containers can take more than 500 years to decompose, while compostable containers, in comparison, take up to 180 days. A report published by Rutgers University states that foam’s manufacturing process is the 5th largest contributor of solid & liquid hazardous waste. Foam waste greatly affects both humans and wildlife.

The Rutgers’ report explains that since foam waste makes up such a large amount of marine debris, it affects marine animals significantly. Due to its broken-down bits that obstruct animal’s airways, contaminate their resources, and cause cancer and digestive problems, marine wildlife are the living creatures most harmed by foam.

Foam can also cause major health problems for humans. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), foam can cause health problems such as: traces of neurotoxicity, potential damage to reproductive systems, cancer risk, depression, headache, fatigue, weakness, and minor effects on kidney function and blood. This happens because of the harmful chemicals that foam emits (i.e. when heating up food in a foam container in the microwave or drinking coffee from a foam cup) and humans ingest.

Foam is a great danger to us and to our ecosystem.

In 2016, AD&V began a campaign aimed to educate restauranteurs as well as clients of the dangers of using foam to-go containers. In our conversations with restaurant owners, we learned that foam had a significantly lower cost than compostable containers and the choice to stock foam was mostly being driven by cost. While we understood the economic implications, we couldn’t help but ask ourselves “At what cost?” We decided to begin an educational social media campaign warning against the dangers of foam to our bodies and our planet. Simultaneously, we began a petition addressing consumers. We understood that small, local, business owners would struggle with the additional cost burden of the compostable containers, but as consumers, we wanted to be given a choice.  Would you rather pay 11 cents extra for the compostable container or have no choice but be given a foam one which would essentially be around for 500+ years and never safely decompose?  Thus, the title of our campaign was born. “¿Cuál es el foam? .11 centavos ó 500 años” (What is the foam? 11 cents or 500 years).

To celebrate Earth day, AD&V proposed local restaurants in Santurce allow consumers to bring in their own compostable bins for takeout as an alternative to the foam containers the restaurants stocked. We set up a tent in the Plaza, partnered with a local compostable container company, and proceeded to give out over 500 compostable take-out containers, made from leftover agricultural fiber, to consumers in the area. Our petition on change.org that day received over 942 signatures of consumers willing to pay 11cents extra to be given the choice of a compostable bin rather than a foam one.

AD&V believes that each and every citizen has the power to make responsible decisions for the planet which we our guarding for our children, grandchildren and future generations. Because we ate out a lot, we couldn’t just sit by and not speak out about something we knew needed to change.  This year, we have submitted a statement to the Senate of Puerto Rico about our position regarding a project that is being evaluated, that proposes to eliminate foam to-go containers from the restaurant industry.  We will continue to speak out on this subject until we provoke the change that we need.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

If you want to make the world a more livable, healthier, and better place by consciously choosing compostable or reusable containers instead of foam containers, here are 5 alternatives you can use:

Wooden Containers

These containers are made from leftover balsa wood and are wrapped in rice paper. They are stackable, open quickly, and since the lid is attached, it saves you storage space. Their look also makes these wooden takeout food containers perfect for gourmet bakery items, craft foods, and even gift packaging. These disposable wooden food containers are non-toxic, biodegradable & compostable.

Sugarcane Containers

Sugarcane is another popular compostable material that’s used in takeout food containers. This is because it’s a sustainable and a quick harvest renewable resource. Eco-Products is one company that has renewable & compostable sugarcane to-go boxes to choose from.

Plant Fiber Containers

These take-out clamshells are made from unbleached plant fiber and composts in 2 to 4 months in a commercial composting facility. Great for hot or cold items, these fiber containers are durable, soak proof, and have no wax or plastic lining. You can check out more compostable plant-fiber containers on World Centric’s website.

Image provided by World Centric

Reusable Containers

Eco-Takeouts® reusable & recyclable to-go containers, imitate commonly used to-go boxes. They are available in different shapes, and their look is similar to the disposable version of what you may get served if you ordered a takeaway meal from a restaurant, except that they are specifically designed to be reused or recycled.

Reusable Plate Covers & Lids

This reusable innovative plate cover uses silicone grips to provide a secure fit on top of compatible plate ware. If you’re eating and you decide to take your meal elsewhere, all you have to do is place the cover on the plate and you’re all set. These covers & lids are reusable, recyclable, durable, stackable, microwave & dishwasher safe.

Foam is a popular & common material used commercially. However, it is a large contributor to environmental waste, and has short, medium, and long-term effects on public health. By choosing a reusable or compostable packaging option like the ones we have researched for you, you can play your part in taking better care of our planet. We are counting on you!

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