Plastic pollution is killing our wildlife. That’s why Environment New Mexico is announcing a new campaign to ban harmful, single-use plastic food containers in New Mexico.
Polystyrene, commonly known as styrofoam, is one of the worst and most common types of plastic. According to the EPA, Americans throw out 70 million polystyrene foam cups every day, 420,000 in New Mexico alone, not including bowls and takeout containers. Tons of our discarded plastic ends up in the environment -- on our lands and in our waterways. More than 8 million tons end up in our oceans every year, the equivalent of five plastic bags for every foot of coastline.
Plastic doesn’t biodegrade, but instead breaks down into tiny pieces called microplastics which are ingested by hundreds of different species. So much plastic pollution has escaped into our environment that multiple giant masses of plastic are floating in the world’s oceans, including one plastic garbage patch five times the size of New Mexico in the north Pacific.
“We’re not only polluting our oceans, we’re also polluting the Rio Grande and our other local waterways. As we are experiencing extreme drought across New Mexico, we should not pollute the limited water with items we do not need,” said Sanders Moore, director of Environment New Mexico.
Some local companies have already taken steps to keep polystyrene out of our waterways. For example, Satellite Coffee has never used polystyrene products and rely on plant-based and recycled products.
“Satellite Coffee has always been environmentally friendly with all our packaging and will continue to make strides to protect the environment. We are proud to say that all our containers are made from plants or recycled materials,” said Avery Edwards, general manager at Satellite Coffee on Alameda Blvd. NW.
From now through August, Environment America canvassers will be knocking on more than 1.2 million doors; conducting nearly 700,000 conversations; and collecting more than 300,000 petition signatures to educate consumers, business owners and decision-makers about plastic pollution, and urge them to support statewide bans in two dozen states.
The Wildlife Over Waste campaign will build on strong, pre-existing local response to the threat of plastic pollution. Already, more than two hundred municipalities from coast to coast have banned polystyrene containers in some form. To eliminate these harmful and unnecessary plastics once and for all, state governments need to do start doing the same.
“With the many, safer alternatives that exist today, we don’t need polystyrene, or any single-use plastic for that matter,” said Alex Truelove, Zero Waste Campaign Director. “We need to ban these unnecessary and harmful plastics that are destroying wildlife in order to shift towards better alternatives.”
“Polystyrene containers are designed to be used once. We shouldn’t allow a product used for 5 minutes to pollute our environment for centuries. It’s a poor choice and states need to join the list of good actors who are addressing this problem,” concluded Moore.