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Sanibel conflicts with environment

By Staff | Dec 14, 2012

Dear Editor,

My boyfriend and I came for a vacation to Sanibel Island after hearing of its natural beauty and its reputation for protecting the environment and wildlife. We were thrilled by the appearance of the island when we first arrived this past Thursday, Dec. 6.

However, our enthusiasm gradually faded as we encountered one environmentally unsound practice after the next:

1) Every restaurant we ate at used styrofoam plates and cups when we asked to take home our leftovers. This even started with the lovely hotel we stayed at, with their complimentary coffee.

You need only google the environmental and human health consequences of the manufacture, use and disposal of polystyrene, to realize how completely devastating the use of this petroleum-based product is to our environment. In truth, its very presence on such a naturalist environment as Sanibel Island is completely contrary to what Sanibel Island prides itself on being about.

(Polystyrene is a petroleum-based plastic made from the styrene monomer. Most people know it under the name Styrofoam, which is actually the trade name of a polystyrene foam product.)

2) Everywhere we went, we found electical lights and wires wrapped around the trees. This same beautification attempt was tried in Boston, Mass., and elsewhere. The end result was that all the trees bound with Christmas and other electical lights, became sickly and died. While it might look attractive to the human eye, electricity is devastating to living trees and plants.

3) Why are people allowed to leave discarded trash along the pathways in nature preserves?

4) Is it possible to provide organic and/or vegetarian fare on the menu that doesn’t involve beef, bacon, ham or shrimp?

There is already a struggle between those who advocate for healthy living, (including local organic farmers and their consumers) and big-agri brother.

Some suggestions for solutions to these issues could be as simple as the followng: 1) restaurants might research and seek out vendors that use non-toxic food containers; 2) the electrical lights on live trees that provide ambiance might be replaced with strings of LED lights overhead but not directly on the trees; 3) Educate the public not to discard their trash along the natural habitat paths; 4) organic and vegetarian food suppliers and consumers are growing daily in number and availability. All one needs to do is seek out such vendors.

By taking a serious look at these issues, and implementing positive change, I feel as an environmentally conscious consumer, that my desire to return to Sanibel Island again and again will be greatly enhanced. This will also encourage my environmentally conscious friends and associates to visit Sanibel Island.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Judith Rubinger & Wes Morgan

Orlando, Fla.