Styrofoam products compose thirty percent of landfills. These products take five hundred years to biodegrade as well as are difficult to recycle. This means that we are filling up more land than they are being decomposed. Besides its extremely lengthy biodegrading period, Styrofoams are also extremely detrimental to the health. This is because their molecular composition is polystyrene of which health effects consist of “irritation of the skin, eyes, and upper respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal effects”. Exposure to polystyrene affects the central nervous system which causes “depression, headache, fatigue, and weakness”1. Styrofoams are also manufactured by hydrocarbons alongside polystyrene, which when combined with nitrogen oxides in sunlight forms hazardous pollutant that also depletes the ozone layer1.
Solutions to Styrofoam are scant. One way to solve this is recycling them. However, doing so costs $3,000 per tonne. To put this in scope, 2.3 million tonnes of styrofoams are being dumped into landfills each year in the United States with 3 million tonnes produced. This costs approximately 6.9 to 9 billion dollars to recycle Styrofoam in just the United States each year. Another solution to Styrofoam is simply using alternatives. Materials such as paper are far more effective and environmental friendly. Paper products are easier to recycle as well as safe and biodegradable.
Myanmar has an abundance of natural resources that ranges from minerals and energy. This is a place filled with potential if things are done right. The copious amount of traditionally provided agricultural production over past decades is one of such example. However, in recent years, the increase in the population and unsustainable extraction of minerals and forest resources, over-utilization of soils and water are all coming back to undermine Myanmar’s economy and social wellbeing.
This is also when Myanmar’s UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) come in to intercept and try to prevent things from getting worse. One of their main projects named “Environment, Climate Change & Disaster Risk Reduction” is a group that manages disaster risk, natural resources and alternative sustainable energies. Rural energy and environmental conservation, for example, are among their eight top priorities of the government.
The UNDP aims to help Myanmar build capacities and implement policies for disaster risk reduction and environmental governance. Two of their most recent story features their effort to recruit Naga Youth to join forces to protect forest of Myanmar. An estimated 47% of Myanmar’s land mass is covered with forest and ethnic communities occupy 0.19% of this area. These communities, which are located in remote areas, are trying their best to prevent deforestation and other related issues.
On the other hand, UNDP is also trying to make it easy for Myanmar’s villages to access to safe and clean source of water. Currently, UNDP’s project supported 57 villages in Plaetwa Townships and water sanitation and hygiene were improved for 2,140 households. With more supports, their scope will expand and cover most of Myanmar’s rural areas.