comscore Kilauea, Kauai, designated as being free of Styrofoam
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Kilauea, Kauai, designated as being free of Styrofoam

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    Gordon LaBedz: If restaurants don’t join the effort, he says his nonprofit is prepared to push for legislation to ban foam containers

LIHUE » Not one restaurant in Kilauea on Kauai’s North Shore uses disposable containers made of plastic foam.

Starting this week, there are two signs at the entrance to the town saying, "Welcome to Kilauea. A Styrofoam Free Community."

The designation is the result of a campaign by the Surfrider Foundation and Zero Waste Kauai to stop eateries from using nonbiodegradable containers, The Garden Island newspaper reported.

Plastics — including Styrofoam — pre­sent litter, pollution and health problems, said Gordon La­Bedz, treasurer of the Surfrider Foundation Kauai Chapter.

Plastics break down into small particles that persist in the ocean, absorb toxins and enter the food chain through fish and other marine life, according to Surfrider’s "Rise Above Plastics" campaign site. More than 3 million pounds of plastic foam also ends up in the local landfill every year, La­Bedz said.

The first step of the campaign was to survey businesses to find out which ones weren’t using plastic foam.

They found 35 percent, or 86, of the nearly 250 restaurants on Kauai have already done away with single-use plastic to-go containers.

LaBedz and Pam Burrell of Zero Waste Kauai said they’re shooting for 100 percent compliance. And they’re not afraid to use pressure to get it done.

"It’s called shame," La­Bedz laughed. "We’re trying to shame people into doing the right thing. We’re not embarrassed to say that."

Burrell, who was in charge of surveying all North Shore eateries, said she was pleasantly surprised by what she found. However, she was frustrated by the handful of restaurants against getting on board. They often cited higher costs.

"Styrofoam is just one of the worst things that just blow around in our environment, especially when we live on an island," she said.

If the remaining restaurants don’t jump on board with their vision for restaurants free of plastic foam containers, La­Bedz said the nonprofits are prepared to take the same route as they did with plastic shopping bags by pushing the Kauai County Council to introduce legislation banning them.

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