Cheap to produce, easy to mold, impact-resistant, waterproof, a good insulator, and buoyant: what’s not to love about extruded polystyrene, aka Styrofoam?

Plenty, in fact. Styrofoam breaks up but doesn’t break down — it’s neither biodegradable nor recyclable. It now represents 30% of landfill material by volume. It’s also the bulk of the plastic pollution that comprises 90% of all marine debris, with single-use food and beverage containers being one of the most common items found in ocean and coastal surveys — and 80% of all ocean pollution, primarily Styrofoam, originates from the land.

A known carcinogen, Styrofoam is toxic trash to humans, wildlife and marine life, the food supply, and our environment, while costing taxpayers millions in clean-up and mitigation costs.

More environmentally friendly alternatives are available and many businesses have made the switch. The UK, the EU, Australia, India, and many other countries, as well as eight U.S. states and numerous major cities, have banned Styrofoam.

Now, finally, it’s Illinois’ turn. Contact your state reps to urge them to support upcoming legislation banning Styrofoam food service containers. Even if you know they’re on the right side of this issue, your opinion matters.

And here in Oak Park, a Styrofoam ban first proposed more than four years ago is finally in the works, and you can help: Register at and share your opinions in the brief survey on single-use plastic.

Your biosphere thanks you.

Wendy Greenhouse
Oak Park

Join the discussion on social media!