A museum that says it is a place where “sprinkles make the world a better place," may be eating its words. According to reports, the Museum of Ice Cream's (MOIC) most popular exhibit is having real consequences on Miami’s environment.
Made for selfies, a pool of fake sprinkles from the museum's pool are hitching rides on human hosts and making their way to the outside world.
Miami Beach officials charged the touring exhibit around $1,000 in fines for creating an “environmental hazard”. A video posted to social media shows the tiny pieces of plastic scattered along Miami's sidewalks and streets as far as two blocks away.
While the sprinkle conundrum might seem laughable at first, environmentalists say the pieces of plastic could make its way into storm drains and eventually into local waterways, where marine life may mistake it for food.
Plastic has become a pervasive environmental problem. Production of the material has skyrocketed since the 1950s, with scientists estimating a whopping 8.3 billion metric tons (9 billion tons) produced so far.
In 2015, just 9 percent of it was recycled, 12 percent incinerated, and 79 percent made its way to landfills or the natural environment. An overwhelming amount also snakes its way into the bellies of deep-sea creatures and causes deformities in sea-faring animals entangled in it. It has even formed plastic rocks on Hawaii's Kamilo Beach.
An estimated 100 million sprinkles caused a similar issue in San Francisco, where the museum's pop up exhibit left sprinkles littering the streets. IFLScience asked MOIC how it plans to curb plastic pollution at other exhibits in coastal cities.
In an emailed response, MOIC says it has “taken immense precautions to ensure we are environmentally conscious and implementing sustainable efforts,” and have “hired multiple cleaners that are constantly sweeping around the building as well as paying extra attention to the waterway entrance.”
Additionally, the museum says they are consulting with environmental specialists and working on developing a “biodegradable sprinkle”.
MOIC also has exhibits open in New York and Los Angeles. If you plan to visit to the museum, perhaps practice some selfie-control and avoid jumping in the sprinkle pool for now.