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Environment

The Museum of Ice Cream Is in a Sticky Situation Over Its Environmental Impact

“The Museum of Ice Cream is the place where ideas are transformed into real life experiences,” according to the website of the traveling pop-up experience of the same name.

A lot more than ideas are being transformed in the museum.

Apparently, the plastic sprinkles that make up its infamous sprinkle pit are contaminating local environments, according to Vice.

Take Action: Take Three Pieces of Garbage With You When You Leave the Beach

Now the museum is facing hefty fines for its ongoing pollution of Miami, according to the Miami New Times.

Local environmental activist Dave Doebler and co-founder of the non-profit VolunteerCleanup.org learned that sprinkles from the museum were showing up outside the museum, so he decided to investigate, Vice reports.  

After coming across countless plastic sprinkles, he notified city officials.

Doebler contends that the sprinkles pose a health risk to marine animals and to the broader local environment, according to Vice. Once the sprinkles leave the museum, they often get washed into storm drains where they contaminate local waterways and are mistaken for food by marine animals who can get poisoned from them.

Read More: Why You Should Probably Never Use a Plastic Straw Again

Miami officials agree. They have so far fined the museum $5,000 over several days for ongoing instances of creating an environmental hazard, the Miami Herald Reports.

The sprinkles are getting out of the museum because people are encouraged to take pictures in a pit filled with the colorful plastic pellets.

When submerged in the pit, sprinkles cling to people’s clothes and eventually fall off in nearby locations.

The museum has traveled to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, before arriving in Miami, and each location has been affected by the plastic sprinkles, according to the Miami Herald.

"If it's on the sidewalk, it most likely goes into storm drains and then into the ocean," Eva Holman of the Surfrider Foundation's San Francisco chapter told San Francisco Gate.

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"Most plastic has a purpose, like bottle caps and food wrappers. What is the purpose of this tiny piece of plastic other than a selfie moment?" she added.

The museum claims that it’s taking measures to reduce and eliminate this problem. Some of the measures include hiring cleaning crews, creating an area where people can brush off sprinkles before they leave, and developing biodegradable sprinkles, Vice reports.  

For Doebler, the only real solution lies in biodegradability, according to Vice, because the plastic sprinkles pose a threat to the environment whenever they’re disposed.

This sprinkle problem reflects the broader crisis of plastic pollution around the world.

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals, which call for environmental responsibility. You can take action on this issue here.

Read More: Shocking Photos Show Extent of Plastic Pollution in Caribbean

Between 1950 and 2015, an estimated 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic have been produced globally, and 75% of this plastic has been thrown away, a large percentage of which makes it into the world’s oceans.  

In fact, the 8 million metric tons of plastic that enter the oceans each year is like emptying a garbage truck of plastic into an ocean every minute. If current trends continue, there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste in the world by 2050.

All of this plastic is causing immense harm to ecosystems around the world.

In recent years, movements to limit plastic have gained traction and cities and countries have started to enact bans.  

The UN is beginning to explore global restrictions on plastic production and major plastic enablers like China are beginning to crackdown on the substance.

At the end of the day, plastic sprinkles may be fun to dive in, but doesn’t the real joy of ice cream come from eating it?