The problem with humans is that we invent things, but it is only after these things become pollutants that we realize that they are extremely harmful to the environment. Both plastic and styrofoam qualify for this tag, and, needless to say, both are extremely harmful to both the humans and the environment. In fact, many countries are banning both of them. However, the question that we need to ask ourselves. Is it too late? There’s already millions of tonnes of styrofoam lying there in landfills, which could lead to something serious in the future. Right now, the best thing we can do is eliminate styrofoam completely from our lives and use eco-friendly substitutes for styrofoam packaging and insulation.
The dangers of Styrofoam
Ever since its launch in the ‘40s, Styrofoam has become one of the most dangerous materials the earth has to deal with. Although it is light, cheap and disposable, the polymer based material has found to never break down, thereby filling up landfills worldwide every single day. Recent research has also indicated that Styrofoam may contain carcinogenic materials that may be harmful to humans in the long run.
8 Eco-Friendly Substitutes for Styrofoam Packaging
These factors may be the reason why many cities around the world have chosen to ban the material altogether. Not to worry though, for the ban comes in the wake of many alternatives to traditional Styrofoam cups and packaging that are eco-friendly and more sustainable. Here are some of those alternatives.
Mushroom Based Styrofoam
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Here is an eco-friendly alternative to Styrofoam which you can actually grow from the earth. The brainchild of Ecovative Design, the Mushroom Packaging features a more sustainable form of Styrofoam that has been made entirely from mushrooms.
It grows from mycelium and other agricultural by-products. First of all, these are broken down and bound by the former which acts like a natural glue. After that, the material is compostable and we can use it to create biocomposite materials that can easily replace particle boards, plastic foams and other dense materials in the long run.
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Another suitable alternative to Styrofoam packaging is the eco-friendly plantable packaging. The product features a fiberboard which we can use for packaging. The fiberboard contains seeds which are embedded into it prior to packing. Once you remove the packaging, you can utilize the fiber board to create an indoor garden in your home.
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This is another alternative to Styrofoam, and is edible as well. That’s right. The Peanut Packaging option features lightweight, fluffy peanuts made out of cornstarch which are used as packaging material. You may not like their taste. However, you can’t deny the fact that they are great substitutes for the traditional Styrofoam, especially if you can eat them rather than throw them away.
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Some of us prefer to use cups no matter what. The best option for people like us in this case is to opt for cup that is eco-friendly and sustainable. The InCycle cup from MicroGREEN is a durable and lightweight plastic cup that has been made from recycled plastics exposed to carbon dioxide. The eco-friendly cups are also easy to reuse and recycle, thus having minimal impact on the environment.
Bamboo Fiber Eco Bowl
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Designed by Tom Dixon, the Bamboo Fiber Eco Bowl is an eco-friendly bowl that is made from bamboo fiber which has been powdered and then mixed with a resin. Lightweight and durable, the cups can be used for as long as you want. They can then retire to your garden to act as planters or compost afterwards.
EarthAware Biodegradable Plastic
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Although it may look like your regular plastic pouch, EarthAware biodegradable plastic features a packing material that is made from plastic, albeit a special one. While the Styrofoam cup will never biodegrade, the EarthAware plastic will biodegrade in five years.
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Relieving landfills in New York and other major cities of Styrofoam plastic based cups, food containers, plates and take out boxes, the Ecotainer features an eco-friendly cup that is made out of recycled wood fibers and plants. Cute, disposable and sustainable, these cups can provide the perfect solution to our Styrofoam plastic woes.
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How would it be to drink out of a cup and then simply gulp the glass down as well? Edible glassware cups can make this dream a reality. Made out of plant gelatin, the cups are vegan-friendly. They come in myriad colors and flavors to complement your choice of drinks. No need to dispose them in a landfill as well for you can expect them to break down in your tummy after eating them.
Many cities around the world have started to ban Styrofoam plastics. They have also started introducing more eco-friendly alternatives to ensure that these polymer plastic based cups are not missed by those who are used to having them around. In fact, artists too aren’t behind on this. Here’s one sculpture by a sculptor from NY, which consists of only Styrofoam.
NYC artist creates giant Hummer using recycled Styrofoam
Using recycled material to create art is a spontaneous way of spreading eco-awareness and exploring the relationship between humankind and
the environment. Various artists have found different mediums for expressing a universal language to teach respect for the environment. New York City-based artist Aaron Hauck has displayed a pink hummer from Styrofoam, as part of a group exhibit of eleven artists in New York, featuring artworks on paper, painting, and sculpture.
In the process of exploring newer art forms and materials, Hauck built the pink Hummer to illustrate the pull and flaws of the modern consumerism. Delving to create a relationship between the rejected junk and the environment, the artist found a way of expression through this enormous Styrofoam object to mimic our exploitive attitude toward electrical energy utilization, material habits, transport choices, etc.
Affected by the litter scattered around this was a mode of reaching out to the society and embolden a green effort and recognize the signs of environmental catastrophe awaiting us. This art piece is a part of the exhibition in affiliation to East Central University in Ada, the Red Country Pictures’ Exhibit and curated by Bradley Jessop and Justin Irvin.