Have you heard? Last week the city of New York announced a ban on styrofoam products from styrofoam containers to fill packaging. They recognized that since this toxic material cannot be economically recycled, it causes significant environmental harm. The ban goes into effect July 1, 2015, and even the public schools will be replacing polystyrene trays with compostable plates.
This news got me super inspired to make some changes for myself, and I'm hoping you'll join me in supporting the ban on styrofoam…
Why styrofoam containers are toxic
Styrofoam is the commonly referred to brand name of the product, polystyrene. From a health perspective, polystyrene contains the toxic substances styrene and benzene–carcinogens and neurotoxins that leach into food and drinks and are then absorbed into the human bloodstream and tissues.
Though technically recyclable, the cost and benefits to recycle polystyrene material make it not worth doing so. Nearly all styrofoam ends up in landfills or oceans where it takes up to 500 years (!) to decompose. In the meantime, it leaches petrochemicals into our water systems and off-gasses into the atmosphere. All the while, more polystyrene is being newly manufactured from fossil fuels.
In 1986 a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) named the polystyrene manufacturing process as the fifth largest creator of hazardous waste in the United States which has impacts on global warming, marine pollution, and public contamination as well.
Where styrofoam still sneaks in
Chances are, you don't have a lot of styrofoam containers in your life. You bring your own water bottle and it's probably either stainless steel or glass. You package your leftovers in glass because plastic tupperware leaches toxins (like BPA), of course. And you probably use natural or even homemade cleaning products.
Whether you're driven by health reasons or concern for our environment, let's face it… you're crunchy. And as far as I'm concerned, the world needs more crunchy mamas (and papas) like you and me.
I don't know about you, but one area where my eco and health consciousness has often fallen by the wayside is when it comes to take-away from restaurants. That's when those evil styrofoam containers appear.
Since Holistic Squid is a family run business largely based around food, on occasion, we love to take breaks from our own busy kitchen and have someone else cook. We also love to order extra so we have leftovers for another day. What we don't love is when the food server brings out a stack of styrofoam containers to pack our food.
As a gentle act of activism, my younger sister will often ask in restaurants if they use styrofoam containers, and if they do, politely explains that she'll be abandoning her leftovers to avoid using their containers. In many cases, she's later found that many of these eateries have made the switch to compostable containers, due to customer demand. Yay!
Many days, I've just turned a blind eye to the styrofoam containers at restaurants, but I believe now is the time to take action.
The best alternative to styrofoam containers
While a switch from styrofoam containers to compostable ones is a must for businesses, an even better solution is to bring your own containers and eliminate the need for any waste, mess, or health concerns at all.
Sure this may seem like an inconvenience, but I'm convinced that making the effort to BYO is well worth it.
When I first started toting a reusable water bottle, I often forgot it at home. Just this morning, when I checked out at the grocery store, I realized I failed to put my stuffable grocery bags back into my purse. But most days, these eco-friendly changes have become a regular part of my life and I don't resort to buying water in a plastic bottle or taking one-use bags from the grocery store.
If we start the trend then – just like reusable shopping bags – others will catch on too.
The best portable food containers
With all of this in mind, I went out in search of the ideal takeout containers. Just like my favorite insulated water bottle and stuffable grocery bags, I wanted a product that would be perfect for my needs – convenient, compact, and as cost effective as possible.
Drumroll please… Here are the BEST eco-friendly containers for food on the go.
Aside from their positive health and environmental profile, here's why I love these eco-friendly takeout containers:
- Nesting – With minimal effort, these containers fit inside one another like Russian dolls, which means they can slip nicely inside a larger purse and you don't need to be the weirdo bringing a big clanging bag of containers into the restaurant.
- Shatterproof – I love using glass storage containers for leftovers at home so I can easily see what's inside, but when it comes to eating out, I don't want to take the risk of toting glass. Stainless steel is a perfect, food-safe alternative and it's the most light-weight as well.
- Leakproof – One more thing I can't stand about styrofoam containers (and all disposable take out) is when they leak and slop out all over the bag and – inevitably – my car or fridge. I've even had some leaks with other stainless steel containers with plastic lids. These containers have a double system of latches and a (food-safe) silicone seal that makes them air-tight and leak-proof. They're even reliable enough for hot, sloshing soup.
- Multitasking – Aside from restaurant take-away, these compact, durable, practical containers are quickly becoming my go-to whenever I need to transport food out of the house. The bigger ones are perfect for potlucks and picnics, and the smaller ones work great for mess-free lunches on the go.
Ready to SAY NO to styrofoam containers?
Let's start a trend and have it catch on like wildfire, until styrofoam bans become as common as cigarette bans of the 90s!
1) Let your favorite restaurants know it's time to ditch the styrofoam
2) Click here to get the BEST containers for food on the go
3) Share this post to show your support for the ban on styrofoam