Statement on Banning Styrofoam in Hawaii In Support of Hawaii Bill 140
Jean-Michel Cousteau's Statement on Banning Styrofoam in Hawaii In Support of Hawaii Bill 140
There are many beautiful places in the world, but none quite as magical as the Hawaiian Islands archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. During the summer of 2003 I had the immense privilege of leading a team of explorers, scientists and filmmakers to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands where we filmed some of the most remote and protected coral reefs in the world. Yet we also witnessed and documented many disturbing sights – pollution and man-made marine debris devastating wildlife in this remote region from humans living thousands of miles away.
While the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are largely uninhabited by people, they are home to tens of millions of seabirds, protected green sea turtles, and the rare and endangered Hawaiian monk seals. When our team first came to visit these ‘untouched’ places, we found them filled with man-made marine debris and garbage, including miles of Styrofoam pollution as far as our eyes could see. Some of this man-made pollution, including Styrofoam, was carried from sea to the islands by adult sea birds hoping to bring nutrient rich meals back to their nests to feed their hungry chicks. Styrofoam and other synthetic materials are eaten by adult albatross are then fed to their chicks, which can cause immediate death. Studies have found that 98% of dead albatross chicks have plastics in their stomach. I witnessed this and it was devastating to my team and I.
I urge the people of Hawaii to support and pass Hawaii Bill 140 to ensure that food venders stop using EPS (expanded polystyrene) Styrofoam containers and instead use biodegradable or compostable alternatives. The good news is that there are many alternatives to Styrofoam already being used across the country and around the world. Over 90 places around the US and internationally have enacted EPS legislation, and various studies show a majority of people support a ban of EPS takeout food containers.
The Hawaiian Islands are known as beautiful and treasured places on this planet. But maintaining a clean and healthy environment is necessary for the islands biodiversity and tourism economy. Let us continue to innovate and create sustainable products that do not harm the planet or undermine the health of our life support system: the ocean.
President, Ocean Futures Society
Ocean Futures Society
513 De La Vina St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
**Unfortunately when it came time to vote, one of the Council Members excused himself and the remaining Council Members voted 4-4 on passing the bill. Unfortunately a 4-4 tie is considered a negative review, and so the bill died this term. There is possibility to revisit this after Council elections.
But Jean-Michel has been graciously thanked for helping to continue the dialogue with the Council Members in Hawaii. It made a difference having Jean-Michel weigh in on this important issue and he definitely brought some excellent light to the subject. **