Current Event: Styrofoam Alternative

Plastic Styrofoam, or expanded plastic foam, is a common packing, insulation, and drink container material. Styrofoam is popular for its light weight, cheap production costs, and insulation abilities. This plastic material, however, poses both health and environmental dangers due to its chemical composition and inability to decompose. Some studies have shown “that long-term exposure tostyrene decreases birth rates, increases the risk for leukemia and lymphoma, and has devastating effects on the liver, kidney, and stomach.”

Some of the best green activism comes from alternative technology development as opposed to banning and regulation. Pathways of waste often pawn off the disposal of trash near lower income areas and developing countries where the health protection and advocacy is non-existent or systematically ignored. In the like of Max’s “feminist technology,” researchers at Naresuan University in Bangkok created a styrofoam alternative: leak proof leaf bowls.


These bowls are made from native trees like thong kwao (bastard teak), sak (teak) and sai (banyan) trees. These bowls provide the same type of technology that styrofoam does: lightweight, cheap, and leak-proof. Beyond that, these bowls are biodegradable (unlike styrofoam). This technology exemplifies the potentials of accessible, local technology. This technology could make a product that is produced and circulated on a global scale return to local wealth.


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