I have known for about 50 years that styrofoam is a disaster when it is out in nature, but it is still popular and used widely both in the takeout food business and the boating and fishing industries.

Two years ago I discovered thousands of styrofoam pieces in the beachgrass at South Beach, Edgartown.

Five willets had gathered on the shore while I was discovering hundreds and hundreds of bits of styrofoam in the beach grass and on the shoreline. These beautiful shorebirds are one of many species that will eat styrofoam thinking it is food, and die from starvation.

Where do these bits come from?

Buoys, takeout cups and containers, coolers, meat and fish packaging, boats, boat floats, the shellfish aquaculture industry, surfboards, paddle boards, shipping blocks and peanuts, insulation, florist foam, are a few items that are styrofoam.

It may surprise you to know that most dock floats are made of styrofoam with a wooden frame.

Styrofoam is exposed to the elements, wave action, any sort of punctures, and the constant waring down that occurs to this non-biodegradable plastic.

Some designs have thousands of styrofoam particles loose in a plastic covering that could be punctured, letting go all of those tiny pellets into the environment.

Edgartown has 15 styrofoam floats at the town landing on Edgartown Bay Road. They are out of the water now and anyone interested can go and take a look at them.

It looks like they are made of wood, until you get up close and look underneath or in between the boards.

What makes styrofoam popular — that it is lightweight, buoyant and inexpensive — is the same thing that makes it dangerous to wildlife, humans and to our environment.

It blows away in the wind, floats on the water and breaks apart easily. It is inexpensive so, many businesses and municipalities, choose it, but at what cost to our natural environment.

Styrofoam will be on our planet forever. It can only break down further into irretrievable plastic bits, called micro-plastics.

These micro plastics are already showing up in our food supplies, especially fish, and water supplies internationally. They are a danger to human health and the health of wildlife.

Say no to styrofoam takeout containers, coffee cups, coolers etc. See what your town is using for floating docks, buoys, and aquaculture.

We had a flourishing fishing community before the invention of styrofoam. We had docks, floats, rafts, boats — none made of plastic.

I have made a poster of 900 pieces of styrofoam that I collected on South Beach. It is on display at the at the Edgartown library.

It represents a tiny amount of the styrofoam that is on South Beach, and does not include the styrofoam on any of our other beaches or the styrofoam that is buried in the sand or woods.

Suzanna Nickerson