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Last week, Oregon leaders from the public and private sectors met in Florence for the eighth annual Oregon Coastal Caucus Summit to discuss challenges and opportunities for the Oregon Coast. I hope the fact that our waste is killing our wildlife came up during the two-day event. Often, we don’t think twice about getting our coffee to-go in a foam cup or food in a foam takeout container but I encourage Oregonians to stop and consider where that waste ends up.

Currently, 70 million plastic foam cups are estimated to be disposed of by Americans every day. Of these, about one-third end up in waterways such as rivers, lakes, and oceans. Polystyrene foam doesn’t biodegrade and every piece produced exists in some form somewhere in the world. Most commonly, it breaks down into smaller materials known as microplastics which are ingested by our aquatic wildlife. It can kill smaller animals like sea turtles and even larger ones like the whale in Italy that was found washed up on a beach with 48 pounds of plastic in its stomach

To protect our wildlife and our waterways and to prevent the tragedy of our aquatic sea life washing up on our shores, we need to dramatically reduce our plastic waste and we can start by banning foam cups and takeout containers here in Oregon.

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Joshua Chaney

Eugene

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