Styrofoam is a plastic, not biodegradable, and extremely harmful to animals and humans.
Thirty years ago when I moved to Martha’s Vineyard, I had discovered a beach in Aquinnah that was completely covered by thousands, perhaps millions, of Styrofoam bits.
Although town officials and environmental committee members from different towns were called on to witness this extreme degradation of the environment, I can’t tell you if any action was taken by any environmental group or any town. Although warmly thanked by the Environmental Police, I was ordered to stay off the Wampanoag property.
These past several years I have been working to make the general public aware of the Styrofoam problem by letter writing and by displaying my beach trash art collages that show the many thousands of Styrofoam pieces that can be found while walking on South Beach.
Meanwhile, towns, marinas, and individuals, all continue to use Styrofoam floats, floating docks, Styrofoam buoys, etc., while Styrofoam continues to litter our beaches and kill our wildlife.
On Wednesday, I witnessed another tragedy, this time at the marsh at Katama, South Beach. Right now there are many thousands of tiny Styrofoam bits that have washed onto Katama marsh.
When the United Nations states that 20 percent of the world animal species have now disappeared from the face of the planet and that we must take action if we want the remaining species to survive, this is what they are talking about.
Do we as citizens, homeowners, voters, parents, respect the planet enough to stop purchasing and using the toxic chemicals that are called plastics?
When retailers are looking for their bottom line and individuals are deciding to purchase plastics, please add in the cost of dead animals that have starved after eating Styrofoam and/or other plastic bits — add in the toxic air created when plastics are burned, and the effects on our lungs. Add in the filth of Styrofoam and other trash on our beaches, add in the health or lack of health of children everywhere.
Right now, Edgartown has the parking area at the town landing on Katama Bay Road filled with open Styrofoam floating docks, ready to place into the water for the spring, summer, and fall season.
Each one of these docks house approximately 4-by-16-foot blocks of soft Styrofoam, called “open Styrofoam.” Open Styrofoam is what it says it is, open to water, wave action, wind, rocks, oil, and other objects. It is so soft that it can be torn apart with one’s bare hands, breaking down into our waters.
These macro plastics and micro plastics are constantly eroding, once these floats are placed in the water. If there are any oils in the water, they will speed up the degradation of the Styrofoam.
The Styrofoam will be there forever, even when too small to see.
We already know that most shellfish and much of our fish now have micro plastics in them.
Styrofoam is inexpensive? I personally think the cost is too high!
Please, find something that is safe for our wildlife and our environment!