Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Step Backwards: Union City, CA

I was very disappointed to read this morning that Union City, CA (a town on the east side of the San Francisco Bay) decided to reverse their planned ban on the use of polystyrene food containers in restaurants. On June 24th, the Union City council had voted to prohibit restaurants from using polystyrene, only to reverse this ban in their second vote on Tuesday night.
Evidently, the city council has decided to recycle the polystyrene rather than to ban it.
However, it is not cost effective to recycle polystyrene and it could put recyclers out of business to try and do so. In addition, Union City is missing the point - it is not just about recycling polystyrene. Polystyrene can leach styrene, a known carcinogen, into food. In addition, the manufacturing process of polystyrene causes horrible pollution, as pointed out in my earlier blog entry.
I hope that the citizens of Union City will speak up and voice their concerns over this decision.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Still No Word from Chipotle

It has been three days and I still have not heard back from Chipotle regarding the use of polystyrene utensils in their restaurants. Next I will write to the CEO to see if I can get an answer.
In the meantime I investigated another restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory. I was pleased to see that they used metal utensils and cloth napkins in the restaurant. But they did use polystyrene for their takeout boxes. It would be so easy to use paper or another type of plastic that can be recycled. So, The Cheesecake Factory is next on my list to petition to stop using polystyrene.
Some cities have banned the use of polystyrene products in restaurants. The first to do so was Berkley, California. I live in California and would like to see this ban extended to the entire state. So, I am going to tackle this problem on two fronts: by appealing the restaurants to stop using polystyrene and by writing to the law makers of my state. I plan to write a letter to Arnold Schwarzenegger asking him to ban the use of polystyrene in restaurants in the state of California. You should do the same!
I'll be adding an online petition feature soon to make it easy for everyone to voice their concern. Stay tuned and keep comments coming!

Monday, July 7, 2008

It all started at Chipotle

Hi, my name is Max and I am an 11-year-old boy who cares about the environment. On this blog, I will be talking about different types of plastics and their effect on the environment.

I got the idea for this blog at my local Chipotle. They use only plastic forks, knives and spoons. I asked my mom why they only use plastic forks, it is such a waste because people use them one time and throw them away. (Chipotle also does not have recycling bins even though they serve glass bottle drinks.) My mom and I thought that Chipotle should use metal utensils for people who eat their meals in the restaurant and only use plastic for take out orders, upon request.

When I got home from Chipotle, I went online to look up the different types of plastics used in products. I learned that plastic utensils are made from number 6 plastic, or Polystyrene, a type of plastic that is not recycled and can leach styrene into food. Styrene is considered a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. It may also disrupt hormones or affect reproduction.

The manufacturing of plastics is also a major cause of pollution. The Berkeley Plastics Task Force stated in a 1996 report that the plastic industry contributed 14 percent of the most toxic industrial releases--including styrene, benzene and trichloroethane--into the air. You can learn more about the bad effects of plastic at this web site:

After learning more about plastics, I emailed Chipotle and asked why they did not offer metal utensils in their restaurants. I also asked why there were no recycling bins. I have not yet heard back, but I will keep you posted. If you want to also email Chipotle to ask them to change their practices, you can do so here:

My goal now is to investigate more restaurants and see what I can do to help. Please check back for updates. I would also like to hear your comments, so please post them here.

Thank you!