In response to last week’s Wednesday Journal coverage on Oak Park’s recently passed ordinance governing single-use plastic materials given out by restaurants, “microplastics” are not specifically banned. Rather, extruded polystyrene foam, better known under the trade name Styrofoam, is banned. In addition, single-use plastic utensils will now be available only on request.

Microplastics are what’s left when plastics, especially lightweight and fragile Styrofoam, break up. This toxic stuff never breaks down or “goes away.” It will be with us forever. Microplastics are now ubiquitous in our water, air, and soil, and as a result in all our bodies.

The Yale School of the Environment reports that microplastic particles are constantly lofted into the atmosphere. They can travel thousands of miles and affect the formation of clouds, potentially impacting temperature, rainfall and even climate change.

Several years in the making, Oak Park’s Styrofoam ban resulted in part from concerted efforts by many local residents and groups. Now everyone can help make it a reality. If a food establishment is still using Styrofoam, ask for an alternative, and let their manager know why. Avoid buying Styrofoam food containers if you must buy single-use materials at all.

Urge our elected officials in Springfield, especially Senate President Don Harmon, to support a Styrofoam ban across our state, following the lead of eight other states, plus Washington D.C.

It’s time.

Wendy Greenhouse
Oak Park

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