Take steps to eliminate use of styrofoam

Polystyrene is one of the most widely used plastics in the world.

It makes up the bulk of the trash along coastlines. When the material breaks down, the chemicals released can be toxic and cause damage to the environment.

It is heartening to see individuals and large corporations such as McDonald's taking steps to reduce the amount of styrofoam used ("McDonald's serving up greener breakfasts"; Oct 2)

It is time to take it a step further.

When we order products, especially electronic products, styrofoam is often used to cushion the items.

What do we do with the styrofoam after we receive the products safely? They just add to the amount of plastic in our waste.

There are alternatives to foam packaging.

For example, biomaterials company Ecovative has developed a product packaging replacement that uses mushroom and other agricultural wastes.

It has teamed up with technology company Dell to package and ship products using the eco-friendly fungi foam.

Of course, we cannot expect to completely replace polystyrene overnight. It is a gradual process and, hopefully, more companies will be aware of these alternatives.

Reducing polystyrene use requires the collective efforts of companies, consumers and even the Government.

It is important for companies to aim for sustainable packing and for consumers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing products.

With greater awareness and more research dedicated to developing alternatives to this plastic, we might be able to eliminate one of the world's greatest eco-enemies in future.

Kathy Christina Muniandy (Miss)