Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

A World Without Styrofoam?

February 23rd, 2013 · 12 Comments · Green Living

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Of all the materials made for food and packaging, I feel like Styrofoam is the most evil in the bunch. Do you agree?

I’m over at Green Your Way today with some really practical ideas for both avoiding Styrofoam and dealing with it when it comes into your life, preferably without using the trash can.

Here’s an excerpt:

Coffee and doughnuts after church, anyone?

Unfortunately, since most churches probably use Styrofoam cups for their weekly fellowship, they help contribute to the 25 billion Styrofoam cups trashed every year in America alone.

Styrofoam is technically plastic number 6, polystyrene. It can be accepted for recycling, but most municipalities specifically state on their recycling lists that they do not accept Styrofoam (and many don’t recycle any sort of no. 6 anyway). Currently only about 10-12% of polystyrene created is being recycled. Abysmal, if you ask me.

Although no. 6 plastic is never on the “safe plastics” lists that I’ve seen, polystyrene does NOT contain BPA. Some sources say it’s perfectly safe for food, but it does leach styrene, which the CDC rates as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Heat is one of the factors that exacerbates chemicals leaching out of the material and into the food, so the fact the Styrofoam is the disposable of choice for hot beverages and soups is a huge factor.

Polystyrene is manufactured from petroleum, an obvious non-renewable resource, and a carcinogen called benzene is used in production.

With all these strikes against it, I almost don’t care whether plastic recycling for number 6 is available or sustainable – it stands to reason that toxins are released in its creation, likely in the recycling process, and definitely in the usage and disposal of Styrofoam containers.

The best strategy against Styrofoam is a good defense: Don’t let it in.

Read TEN ideas for defense HERE

One company that I can trust not to ship with Styrofoam is Mighty Nest, a longtime KS sponsor. A huge thank you to them for thinking sustainably (and selling safe, natural products for a healthy home).

Things I have gotten there: chlorine filter for bathtub and shower, cast iron griddle, stainless steel water bottles (huge fan of the ThinkSport, not so much on the little one for Leah with the rounded lid), toddler/baby sippy cups (my review), small Xtrema ceramic pan, Lunchbot container, bamboo cutting boards, glass dishes (by the way, the giveaway for the cool Duralex glass storage dishes is still going through Monday night!)…yeah…I’m always finding something else I want! Save 10% off your order with the code STEWARDSHIP10!


12 Comments so far ↓

  • Lorena via Facebook

    How much? None!

  • Stephanie via Facebook

    If I buy meat at the grocery store, it comes on styrofoam, but that is it.

  • Kate

    Sometimes amazon sends me packages with just crumpled paper and then sends me a survey on how I felt about it. I haven’t found out how I can request not plastic/stryfoam packaging yet, but I always respond to the survey that I love having no plastic packaging!!

  • Ariane@Skyeslife

    I HATE styrofoam and plastic and I am so glad to see some companies not using these unatural products

  • Jeana

    There are also many places that take packing peanuts for recycling. There’s a shipping place a few blocks away from us that gives me discounts on shipping for bringing in used packing peanuts. Environmentally friendly and frugal all at once!

    mattie Reply:

    There are packing peanuts made out of cornstarch. We love those in our family – they dissolve with water – great fun for kids!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Love those too! We make crafts out of them…then the only problem is how to throw away the crafts w/o the kids seeing so they don’t take over the house. ;) Katie

    mattie Reply:

    We let them hang out for a bit and when they are getting too numerous I can usually make the argument to use the hose on them (or if it’s cold – a watering can in the tub). The excitement of watching them dissolve is often almost as good as the fun o making a creative project.

    Tony Reply:

    Talking about styrofoam, is it safe for building/house insulation?
    Where can I find this type of info?

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Good question, since that’s one of the things it’s recycled into – I think it’s highly flammable, so you have to make sure the insulation has been treated so that it’s not. Then you want to figure out what chemicals they might have used to treat it, and if it’s any worse than regular insulation. ;) It’s never easy, but almost always worth it to do your research!
    :) Katie

  • Sarah D

    I took this as a challenge to bring a re-usable to church for my coffee so I wasn’t using all that styrofoam. Thanks!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:


Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.