Monday, April 7, 2008

Misleading information

Last week I attended a social breakfast with a few parents from Kyra's school. It is always nice to hear that our children are in somewhat of the same stage of life, and that as a mom you're not going crazy on your own. Same school, same age, same issues, different parenting backgrounds and techniques. After the breakfast, of which I had none since I showed up characteristically late, I went next door to the Booster Juice store to get a wheat grass shot that had been displayed so inticingly in the store window as I walked by it earlier. Ah yes, I had been dreaming of wheat grass for the last hour and half. Is that weird?! I read a poster in their store while I was waiting for my grass to be juiced (does that read as funny as it sounds?) on the environment benefits of styrofoam cups over paper. I can't believe this to be true.

I relate this experience from last Thursday because I repeated the visit this morning with Tasha and was reminded of the trust and lack of trust that I have in the information that so-called experts give us. You think that when you read something from a scientific journal, health magazine, doctor's office, ect. that it should have some basis for truth and/or show the whole picture. I can't stand that people can (and DO) manipulate the numbers, truth, and even quotes from people to benefit the point that they are trying to make. Give me a topic, any topic and I'll find a way to get numbers and quotes to support the most ridiculous side of the fence. THEN, I'll give myself a really fancy name, back it with some even fancier credentials and post it on the internet! If you write it people will read...and some of them might even believe. I love to be able to access a number of articles about any given topic with this amazing google search engine, but I am very discouraged at the amount of misleading information and dirty pictures you can pull up in the process. Nobody said you need a PhD to use the internet, but sometimes I don't think my BA is enough to sort through all the trash. I bet my local garbage man or recycling sorter could do a much better job.

Back to the styrofoam cup, or, as we should all be very aware, the polystyrene cup. I am being specific here because if you google "styrofoam" you get a very different result than if you enter "paper vs polystyrene". You get a much broader spectrum of information on the subject if you enter in the later search. Everyone knows about styrofoam, so you get the dummy answer for your question. Always dig a little deeper and read with an exceptionally skeptic eye. For instance, the Institue for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment sounds like it would be a very good resource. I'm sure their research was very thorough, well documented and right on the money. When it comes to producing and manufacturing styrofoam, paper, and ceramic cups, the environmental impact of these 3 choices are listed above from least to greatest. Meaning, making one styrofoam cup has far fewer bad emissions than making a ceramic cup. In fact, I could use 1000+ styrofoam cups before I would even come close to the environment impact that it takes to make and wash my favorite West Wing ceramic mug. Likewise, I could use 39 paper cups. Well, clearly we should all be using styrofoam, right?!

WRONG! Let's stack up those 1000 foam cups and set them right next to my one mug. Put them into a landfill and what do you have? A big old mess. How about the natural materials that go into these beverage containers? I don't think there is anything natural in polystyrene and certainly nothing renewable. If these babies don't end up in a landfill they won't biodegrade like a paper cup. Sadly, there are still people out there that think it is acceptable to just leave their trash lying or floating around, and enough people don't recycle. Finally, we could talk about the wonderful leaching affect that comes from putting a hot, fatty, or citrus-y food into a polystyrene container. I think I read that if you drank 3 cups of coffee everyday for a year your body would actually be obsorbing a full cups worth of polystyrene. I wonder what our bodies do with that stuff.

So now I'm off to sip my smoothie from my styrofoam cup, leach some plactic into my lunch by using my microwave oven, and emit some harmful cellular waves into my brain while I talk on my cell phone on the way to school/work in my semi-gas efficient clunker of a car. I'm not perfect, don't plan on being anytime soon, and have not gone off the deep green end. I just want the truth. I don't want to be lied to, decieved, or even manipulated into thinking that something is what it isn't. It might be more environmental productive for Booster Juice to serve their beverages in styrofoam cups but the jury is still out at my house.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Davey introduced me to some great web resources that have done alot of the work for you. Have you discovered the wonderful world of snopes.com? I LOVE this site! I often email the snopes link to friends who unwittingly forward C-R-A-P along. Also, he suggests that whatever you're wondering about, put it into google with the word fraud or scam after it. Like: isagenix scam. That's a recent one that Davey and I had to research. Anyway, he also likes quackwatch.com

I agree it sure is helpful to hear both the proponents and critics of everything. It isn't fun to be ignorant.