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Anna Nguyen | Staff Photographer

My name is Carly Lanning and I have a fear of styrofoam. Don’t laugh, it’s true!

The official name for this particular fear is styrophobia, but I prefer to call it “fear of the substance that shall not be named.”

Most people snicker when I tell them, thinking that I am making it up, but I’m not. I have it, and it’s real. There is nothing that will get me out of a room faster then spotting styrofoam packing peanuts in the corner.

I hate the touch of it, seeing it, the idea of eating it and hearing it. In my perfect world, there would be no styrofoam and planet earth would be a much happier place.

Nothing devastatingly tragic happened to me with styrofoam. I wasn’t shoved in a box full of packing peanuts for a long period of time or forced to eat a block of it when I was younger. To be honest, when I was little, I didn’t mind the substance. I could unwrap presents and wrap up leftovers in take out containers with ease. It wasn’t until I started getting older that this problem developed. I started noticing the awful noise that is made when two pieces of styrofoam rub together, started hating its texture and the sound of people playing with it would make me cringe and nauseous. Just seeing the substance makes me instantly jumpy and irritated.

I can’t sit in the same room as it, can’t open gifts with packing peanuts and I cover my ears whenever my friends pack up their leftover meals into containers in restaurants.

As much as I try, styrofoam and I cannot share the same planet together because it is my kryptonite. Now before you fold up the paper and walk away from this article thinking I am crazy, hear me out.

I have a fear of sitting next to it but everyone should be afraid of what the styrofoam is doing to our planet. Styrofoam is made up of a substance called polystyrene which is used in the productions of plastics. This chemical is deadly to both the environment and the people who work with it on a daily basis. The manufacturing of styrofoam is the fifth largest creator of hazardous waste. When making polystyrene, the by-product is CFCs, the main chemical that is depleting the ozone layer and causing global warming. This is both air pollution and in ground contamination.

When we are done using our styrofoam containers, cups and packing peanuts, we throw them into our landfills where they don’t degrade like other products, nor are they recyclable.

Once they are sitting in the dump, they aren’t moving anywhere very quickly. This is unsafe and impractical for a material that we continue to use in our daily lives. Many cities and countries have taken action to outlaw the production of polystyrene within their areas. If we continue to produce styrofoam, we will only be contributing to the destruction of our own environment. It is up to us now to change the fate of our world and time to start protecting our planet. Though you may not be cringing in the corner like I do when I see someone biting into a styrofoam cup, you will probably be taking notice now. You may not have styrophobia but with a little help and time, the planet and I will sleep soundly once again knowing that our most feared substance has been eliminated.

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