To-Go Boxes: Switching Practicality for Sustainability


BY RACHAEL BLANDAU – STAFF WRITER

A few weeks ago, Centre Dining Services announced their intentions to implement a new, sustainable take-out service. This service aims to eliminate the previous system of using Styrofoam and Polystyrene disposable boxes, and create a new system of eco-friendly boxes that we can buy for three dollars then bring back and get a replacement. This new practice is remarkably effective in reducing our carbon-footprint and the money the college wasted every year to buy the Styrofoam containers.

Styrofoam containers contribute significantly to climate change, as Styrofoam is not biodegradable and unrecyclable, and take five hundred years to break down. Often enough, once we dump our Styrofoam containers in the garbage, they are put in landfills that build up so much the garbage starts to leak into the water systems. The pellets that make up Styrofoam are choking hazards to Marine life, as well as health hazards for the reasons cited above. It also has deleterious effects on human health due to one of its major components—Styrene, a skin irritant, which can also cause gastrointestinal and respiratory tract illnesses.

By banning usage of Styrofoam/Polystyrene foam in our to-go boxes, we have followed in the footsteps of major cities such as New York City, which among others reasons, cited for banning Styrofoam included the chemical and mechanical harm it does to humans and animals. In New York Mayor Bill De Blasio’s statement surrounding this ban, he said that its environmental impact is reprehensible.

“These products have real environmental harm and have no place in New York City,” De Blasio said. “We have better options, better alternatives, and if more cities across the country follow our lead and institute similar bans, those alternatives will soon become more plentiful and cost less.”

Therefore, Dining Services’ effort to get rid of Styrofoam containers is not only beneficial on an environmental standpoint, but also to our health.

However, despite its numerous benefits, some students see the new take-out service as inefficient and a nuisance.

“While I think it is a good idea, I think it should be implemented in larger places and environments. I don’t think it works here,” sophomore James Anderson said. “I get take-out once in a blue moon, and when I do, it is weeks to months until I go back. If they only take the box back when you go again, it is weeks to months before they get it back, and I have to keep track of a plastic container I didn’t want.”

This claim does have credence, as the new system is not grossly beneficial to those individuals that do get take-out on a regular basis. Due to extracurricular and academic commitments, many students rely upon the take-out system as a time saver, and have to deal with the inconvenience holding on to the new containers causes them.

Even so, this system may is not terribly inconvenient for both the fair weather and daily take-out users.

While the effects of changing over to a more sustainable take-out system on our small campus may seem negligible in comparison to New York City, and its health benefits may seem insignificant, we must never disregard the impact every eco-friendly system has. A common excuse given during election season is “I didn’t vote because my one vote won’t matter much anyway.” Of course, if everyone voted who hadn’t, the election could very well shift in another candidates favor.

This same reasoning applies to going green. We may think that one bag of aluminum cans we didn’t recycle won’t mater in the scheme of things, but in a world made up of billions of people, those bags add up. Yes, this new system may be inconvenient, but we must keep implementing these small changes in order to change things.

After all, we may not think this change is important, but landfills around us tell a different story.


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