We who live in San Luis Obispo justifiably pride ourselves on the progressiveness of our city, yet it needs to catch up to other municipalities that have eliminated toxic trash. After participating in several beach cleanups — SLO Creek and other drainage areas — I became curious about the cities that ban the use of foam takeout containers. I discovered that the number in our state now exceeds 70, with San Jose’s ordinance having taken effect Jan. 1. That ordinance requires all restaurants to use non-foam food service ware.
Clean-up of foam litter is difficult: It’s very lightweight, breaks into tiny pieces and ends up in our waterways, becoming a hazard to sea life as well. Production of polystyrene (commonly known as styrofoam) uses 57 chemicals, many are carcinogenic and, if heated, toxic substances are released into the food.
Local citizens concerned about this have formed a coalition called SLO FOAM FREE. We plan to present our concerns to SLO’s City Council in March, hoping we get strong support to stop this senseless and nonrecyclable litter. Ultimately, we hope for a countywide ban. Let’s do the right thing to our environment and stop this at the source.