Molly Grace James

A Life Well Lived…



Say No to Styrofoam!

Just today, at lunch with my sweet grandmother, she asked for a to-go container for a portion of her unfinished meal. Unfortunately, she did not receive an eco-friendly container. Instead she got what is many times a standard container. Styrofoam packaging or polystyrene is a petroleum-based plastic made from the styrene monomer. It is bought in bulk at a cheap rate by many restaurants and is used for its insulating properties.

Keep this beautiful!
Keep this beautiful!

Top 5 Reasons to Avoid Polystyrene 

  1. Not Easily Recyclable  

    Even though technology for recycling polystyrene exists, the market for recycling is very small and shrinking. This means each time you take out a container it will probably end up in landfill instead of being recycled. But recycling is not “closed loop” (see point 2).

  2. Inefficient Recycling

    If collected and recycled, polystyrene containers and cups are not re-manufactured into the same product, but into other products such as packing filler. This means that more resources will have to be used, and more pollution created, to produce more polystyrene containers.

  3. Harm to Workers and Consumers

    In a world where ‘everything will give you cancer’ it still seems reasonable to me to mitigate those risks as best as possible.  Exposure from personal use is probably not enough to cause any true health concerns, but what about the factory workers creating the PS? Linda Birnbaum, is a toxicologist who heads the government agency which has declared styrene, an ingredient in fiberglass boats and Styrofoam, a likely cancer risk. ” “Let me put your mind at ease right away about Styrofoam,” she said in a Huffington Post article. Levels of styrene that leach from food containers “are hundreds if not thousands of times lower than have occurred in the occupational setting,” where the chemical in vapor form poses a possible risk to workers.

  4. Toxins in Our Air, Land and Water from Styrene Production

    A few years ago, the U.S. National Toxicology program declared that styrene was “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”     Styrene can be found in air, soil, and water after release from the manufacture, use, and disposal of styrene-based products, says the CDC. Low levels of styrene occur naturally in a variety of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, beverages, and meats. Small amounts of styrene can be transferred to food from styrene-based packaging material.

  5. Better alternatives 

    When it comes to food-safe polystyrene alternatives several good options exist.

Betters Options:

Green Star Restaurants
Many eco-friendly restaurants will opt for greener options.  Post-consumer recycled paper, bamboo, corn plastics, etc. are easily renewable resources. These may be more expensive, but it is worth it for long term eco and health benefits.

paper packaging to go

Bring Your Own
eco clamshell 1Eco-clamshells are great, too and can be used over and over again. I bought mine,  made of number 5 plastic, or polypropylene.  This means it will be able to be recycled if I ever need to.   Although some cities have banned polystyrene, it may be nearly impossible to avoid altogether. As styrene is used in many everyday items such as building products, insulation, fiberglass, auto parts and carpet backing.  Still, when it comes to consumption, we have a choice to eat and drink the purest and highest quality items as possible. So, the next time I am out to lunch with my grandmother, I will remember to bring my container and will do my part, albeit in a small way against polystyrene.


Check out another blogger’s post on recycling Styrofoam.

Ice Cold Ideas for Hot Days: My Bottle Melts in My Hand

Glass was the original portable packaging for beverages in the 1800s. In the 1960s metal and aluminum became readily available and in the 1970s plastic bottles were introduced.  Now top soda makers like Coca-Cola are returning to the use of glass bottles due to their popularity and higher premium prices for the beverage makers.


Soda sales overall have fallen by 1.4 percent in the last year. 1 I know I prefer drinks that are healthier and contain none of the sugar or chemical compounds found in many of these drinks.

The move toward glass is a great idea in terms of the recycling options. Glass can be recycled again and again with no loss in quality or purity. But what if your bottle didn’t need to be recycled at all?

Via Coca-Cola
Via Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola rolled out a fantastic summer campaign in Colombia with “ice bottles.” Delivering ice cold soda to hot beach goers, ‘fria hasta la ultima gota’ or ‘cold to the last drop,’ frozen bottles will simply melt and require no recycling efforts. Once the bottle melts, a rubber hand grip is all that is left behind as a branding souvenir.

According to Coca-Cola the bottles, “continue to make quite a splash in South America and throughout the advertising world.” 2

Who knows, they might even stir a new wave of creative ideas in the ability of companies to offer more environmentally friendly packaging solutions.

Additional Reading: 

Is This the End of the Soft-Drink Era?


Glass Bottles Lend Pop to Soda Makers 1

Equator Cool Down: Colombians Melt for Coke’s Ice Bottle 2

Vibrant Upcycled Designs by Catalina Estrada

Fun and vibrant patterns are Catalina Estrada’s specialty. I love her fun eco-designs, which are sold online via Blue Q.  What is even better is that they are made of 95% recycled woven polypropylene.


Hummingbird Shopping Tote 

hummingbird shopping tote

Moon Garden Shoulder Tote

 tote catalina estrada

Zippered Hummingbird Pouch

zippered hummingbird

Peacock Zipper Pouch

peacock zippered

Would you buy an upcycled plastic tote?

Are you a Plastic-holic?

Plastic, it is versatile, cheap, and incredibly convenient. Yet despite being designed to throw away, plastic simply doesn’t go away.

According to the Plasticity Forum:

Each year a staggering 280 million tons of plastic is produced globally.

But estimates are that only 10% is recycled each year.

Capturing this waste stream presents a significant and untapped business opportunity. Innovative redesigns of packaging will lead to responsible use and re-use of plastics.  In the meantime, with many companies using vast amounts of plastic, there are several measures to cut-back on personal use.

Alternatives to:

Whole Foods Market phased out the use of plastic bags and is asking consumers to use re-usable bags. Reusable bags come in many fantastic options.  tumi bag

Glass is one of the greenest materials on the planet and is 100% recyclable. Plus you don’t have to worry about chemicals from plastic that can leach into liquids. Plus water from glass tastes crisp and fresh. Check out glass bottles with flavor infusers for fresh, naturally flavored water.


While reusable dishware is preferable, we may not always have that option. If that is the case opting for compostable plates, cups and utensils will mean less plastic in landfills and water streams.


Polystyrene #6 plastics are often non-recyclable and simply end up in landfills. Be smart and bring your own container. Many eco-clamshells are dishwasher and microwavable safe as well.

With so many options, it is easy to start making a difference!

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