Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 21st 2013 Contents A24
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, October 21, 2013
Ambrosia Peeled Garlic - firstname.lastname@example.org per bag
Ambrosia Peeled Garlic - 5 email@example.com per bag
Split Peas @$199.00 per bag
12mm Channa @440.00 per bag
Wide variety of peas and beans,
dried fruits (prunes, sultanas, raisins etc.)
bird seeds, carrots, potatoes, onions, cheese, etc.
Address: John Peter Road
Guyana intends to ban poly-
styrene containers within two
years. If it does so, it will be the
first time an entire country has
You probably know polystyrene
better as Styrofoam. It s banned in
places like Los Angeles and San
Francisco. Mayor Bloomberg has
promised to ban it in New York
In a previous column, on Octo-
ber 7, I dwelt briefly on the diffi-
culty of recycling polystyrene and
the potential health risk associated
with one of its building blocks, a
toxin called styrene.
Well, that raised some eyebrows.
Here s an e-mail I got from one of
the nation s best-known poly-
"Dear Mr de Verteuil, "Re:
Guardian article of October 7
Captioned The Good thing: We
can recycle plastic
"You have made many assertions
in your article most without any
"Of particular concern to us is
the assertion we have noted below.
As this assertion has serious
implications, we must ask you to
" There s one common plastic
which is hard to recycle: poly-
styrene, or styrofoam. Styrofoam is
actually a trade name. It contains
a toxin called styrene, a suspected
carcinogen. It s what takeaway
restaurants usually serve food in. It
should be banned. With govern-
ment help polystyrene manufactur-
ers should be able to retool to
plant-based biodegradable plastic.
"We look forward to your reply."
Here it is: the National Toxicolo-
gy Program s Report on Carcino-
gens (2011) declared: "Styrene is
reasonably anticipated to be a
The US department of health
issues that report. Classification as
a possible cause of cancer does
sales no good. Reminiscent of Big
Tobacco, the polystyrene industry
filed a lawsuit in the US District
Court for the District of Columbia
challenging the classification.
The court threw out the chal-
lenge, with good reason: the public
has a right to know whether com-
mon chemicals pose a cancer risk.
It sounds simple, a ban. What
would we replace all those poly-
styrene cups and food containers
Hard plastic or paper would
seem to be the answer. It s not
simple. It doesn t make much of a
difference if hard plastic instead of
polystyrene is thrown into a
garbage dump or river. Without
separation of garbage and recy-
cling, a ban won t be effective, no
matter how necessary it is.
To make sense, the solution
should be a ban on polystyrene
and fully comprehensive recycling
facilities. Eighty per cent of waste
can be recycled.
Both plastic and polystyrene are
made from petrochemicals, linking
them with oil pollution and seis-
mic surveys, which kill fish and
whales and turtles ("seismic
bombing," according to Gary
Aboud and the Fishermen and
Friends of the Sea).
Both will degrade to toxic parti-
cles, which will be around for a
long time, but neither can biode-
Paper can biodegrade, but often
wax or plastic coatings are used,
slowing down the process to
decades. Paper is linked to defor-
estation and, if it s bleached, to
dioxins, some of the nastiest tox-
ins known to man. While paper
feels greener, polystyrene foam
actually wins out when you com-
pare energy efficiency. According
to a 1994 University of Victoria
study, making a ceramic cup is 70
times as energy-intensive as a
foam cup. A glass cup takes 20
times the energy, and a paper cup
twice as much.
So there you have it, each prod-
uct has its own impact. Best: Use
a reusable cup or container. Worst:
polystyrene foam, which is hard to
recycle, can t biodegrade, and con-
tains a suspected carcinogen.
In my opinion non-bleached,
recyclable, biodegradable paper has
the edge on hard plastic, because
it won t be around forever.
Alternatives there are biodegrad-
able vegetable-based plastics.
Cups, containers, cutlery can be
made from material such as
bagasse from sugarcane.
While T&T doesn t have much
sugarcane for bagasse left, Guyana
has huge amounts.
Our local industry can manufac-
ture it into environmentally safe
food and drink containers.
A taxation regime which pro-
motes the use of recyclable
biodegradables can be used to
stimulate a new industry.
Amy Deacon, a biologist at UWI,
says on the Papa Bois Conserva-
tion Facebook page: "According to
one of my favourite lunch places,
even those vendors who WANT to
use more environmentally friendly
alternatives just can t because sty-
rofoam is so much cheaper and
they wouldn t be able to compete
with those who continue to use it.
Perhaps heavy taxation/ban is the
You have a voice. Use it. Tell
your food vendors that you want
safe, environmentally responsible
food and drink containers.
Some restaurants allow you to
use your own plate or container.
Patronise restaurants that serve
food on an actual plate. Some-
times you just need to ask for one.
YOU HAVE A VOICE, USE IT Cancer awareness is part of the cure
October is officially commemorated as Breast Cancer Month
here and elsewhere around the globe. It's been going on for 25
years. Recently published data indicated that 15 million years of
healthy life were lost in 2008, as women around the world
suffered from breast cancer illness and associated mortality.
Disturbingly, the data produced by researchers in Sweden also
point to a surge of breast cancer in the developing world mainly
because of late detection and limited access to treatment where
many people exist without any kind of health insurance.
And even where there is supposed to be free health care, it is
a fact that persons of the lower socio-economic bracket find it
difficult to access specialist services, so many of them do not
get the requisite treatment and will be detected when it is all
The economic burden of breast and other cancers on the
society has not been lost on well-thinking individuals. This may
explain why year after year, several local organisations have put
their considerable time, money and other resources to help
boost the campaign to increase awareness about this dreadful
disease. The scientists have said repeatedly that awareness is
part of the cure.
Breast Cancer Month activities also include a fundraising
component, and it is hoped that most of this money is used to
assist in research to find a drug which will arrest tumour growth.
Although some cynical whispers have been heard questioning
whether the companies that support the cause earn more on
their merchandising activities than they donate to research
efforts, the fact is that recent advances in treatment have led to
a higher survival rate.
During this month, this newspaper has reported on individuals
of courage who have been diagnosed with cancer but who
continue to fight for their lives with grace and determination.
And there is further good news from the scientific community.
Scientists have reportedly completed mapping the genetic
mutations in breast cancer so that they are able to create more
effective, individual treatment plans. This will, no doubt,
contribute to the growing survival rate of victims.
And while the emphasis this month is on breast cancer, we
should not forget that there are many other cancers, including
gynaecological, colon, skin, prostate and lung cancers.
It is important for persons to recognise the signs and
symptoms of cancer, and that will only come about through a
massive education programme aimed at raising awareness.
As they contemplate the debilitating effects of this disease,
the question on many people's minds is this: What can I do to
reduce my risk of getting cancer? The experts say while cancer
is sometimes genetic, there are certain triggers in one's lifestyle
and environment which can put them at greater risk. The World
Health Organisation recommends a healthy lifestyle, an exercise
regimen, and abstinence from smoking.
Cancer has brought utter misery and suffering to many
families and communities. And as so many brave men and
women continue to battle this disease, this newspaper reminds
you that you do not stand alone. We honour you and look
forward to a cure.
The Jamaica Gleaner
MARC DE VERTEUIL
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