Melynda Roy 0

Polystyrene isn't always EGGcellent.

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Kroger is a very respectable brand, a huge American company.  Their values are (according to their website) Honesty, Respect, Inclusion, Diversity, Safety, and Integrity.  Kroger also participates voluntarily in the EPA Waste Wise.  and their goal is to "ultimately meet and exceed the EPA’s Zero Waste threshold of 90%, in all our facilities," and they have already reduced landfill waste to zero at half of the plants.  So, Kudos to Kroger for taking positive steps in the direction of a sustainable corporation.  But if these sustainability practices are not passed on to the customers, how much difference can Kroger make for the environment?   

Polystyrene, commonly referred to as styrofoam, is the semi-dangeous petroleum based plastic product used in packaging Kroger brand eggs in Richmond, VA.  I remember when I first realized the dangers of styrofoam. I was in a restaurant with my brother and his girlfriend.  We were served drinks in stryofoam cups, and we were given stryofoam bowls to make our ice cream; and this was an eat-in restaurant! Trish* was disgusted by the styrofoam.  Trish is studying to be an Environmental Engineer.  If she were alone, I believe she would have left the restaurant, that is how upset she was! So that made me think: why is she so upset? I mean, I knew that styrofoam took up a lot of room in our trash bins, but I figured it was crushed the easiest in the dump.  I knew that with heat, Styrofoam was a health danger, but so is hot or frozen plastics; I had reused water bottles before and I am still fine.  So later I looked into the problems of styrofoam, and wow! I am now a concerned citizen.  This is what I found:
(*- name changed for privacy. )

Polystyrene material releases chemicals into food, especially once heated. During processes to make styrofoam, 57 chemical by-products are released. Polystyrene is considered non-biodegradable. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 89% by weight of production is released into the air, and more in the surface waters. In terms of eggs, that's 10.5 eggs being wasted into the air and water for every dozen you create! And then to dispose 'used' Polystyrene is contributing even worse factors into the environment, as the recycling capabilities throughout the U.S. are shrinking, so it has to be with the trash (there's about 15 places in the U.S. you can recycle Polystyrene; if not recycled then it sits in a landfill.), or worse, Polystyrene is littered. It chokes small animals when they try to eat it and the food that was in it, ultimately those tiny pieces of toxic human trash kill the small land animals, as well as marine animals.

 As if the effects on the environment to make styrofoam aren't enough, the "EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have established styrene as a possible human carcinogen." The chemicals affect human health and reproductive systems. The people who work with styrene are facing concerning health risks. Medical Doctor Andrew Weil describes: "While the NTP describes evidence that styrene can cause cancer as "limited," it reports that the occupational hazards include an increased risk for leukemia and lymphoma as well as genetic damage in white blood cells of workers exposed to the chemical. Beyond that, styrene also has been associated with respiratory problems among workers exposed to it as well as with "styrene sickness," a combination of headache, fatigue and feelings of drunkenness. Styrene causes lung tumors in several strains of mice." (Dr.Weil, M.D.).

 Isn't this sad? Even though we are aware of health risks, we still let the workers be exposed! So, I ask all of you Kroger-brand-egg-buyers to join me in encouraging Richmond's Lombardy street Kroger to switch their packaging from polystyrene. Not only is it hindering their goal to become a 90% waste free corporation, but it is hindering their ability to maintain their values. Specifically, it hinders the safety of their workers in these plants producing polystyrene, and the sustainability of the corporation. In Richmond, chipboard, cardboard, paper, and plastic are all easily recyclable, however Polystyrene is not (check out your recycling abilities by area here). In my local Kroger, I hope to set in motion a sustainability practice relevant to Richmond and its sustainability abilities. This is why I want Richmond's Kroger to change its packaging for their Kroger brand eggs.


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