Never underestimate the difficulty of being environmentally correct.

Last year, fast-food chains raced each other to be the first to abandon foam packaging, which environmentalists have deemed harmful to nature. Many municipalities have even banned foam containers, mandating a switch to paper products - which are thought to be more easily degradable in the nation's garbage dumps.But hold everything. A new report from Science magazine says that when the entire process from manufacturing to disposing is considered, foam, not paper, is the more environmentally benign packaging.

A paper cup, of course, requires the destruction of health-giving trees. Scripps Howard News Service reports that manufacturing a paper cup requires 1.8 grams of nasty inorganic chemicals, a plastic cup only 0.5 grams; and paper manufacturing releases more of the chemicals into the environment. On top of all this, consider the greater amounts of electricity, steam and coolant water that are required to produce a paper cup.

What to do? Should we take a cue from some aboriginal peoples and wrap our food in the giant leaves of rubber plants? That's out of the question. All those self-appointed protectors of the rainforest would never stand for it.

So back to the drawing board. But don't use too much paper and ink.