ETSU has made great efforts to reuse, reduce and recycle on campus. With support from Sodexo, SGA passed a resolution to ban Styrofoam from campus.
“One of the initiatives we came up with at the beginning of the semester with the Sustainability Department was to become a Styrofoam-free campus,” said Kayla Tucker, the dining services marketing manager at ETSU. “With most of our locations it was easy – we switched from Styrofoam disposable plates to compostable ones for catering events, and switched from Styrofoam coffee cups to paper ones.”
However, there is one restaurant on campus that the transition from Styrofoam will require some extra work.
“The one challenge was Chick-fil-A,” Tucker said. “Every other retail dining location used paper or plastic cups already, but Chick-fil-A’s brand standard is Styrofoam for lemonade. To get passed that, we had to have an established campus initiative to get permission from Chick-fil-A corporate to switch to paper cups.”
The issue with Styrofoam is it can never completely decompose. According to Carry Your Cup, a movement to encourage people to carry a non-decomposable cup, most of the Styrofoam disposed of today will still be present in landfills 500 years from now.
“Now that SGA has passed this bill, we are just waiting for final approval and we will officially be a Styrofoam-free campus.” Tucker said. “We are excited about this, and think it is a great step in the right direction for sustainability on ETSU’s campus.”
Students and staff around campus are excited about this change.
“Styrofoam is basically expanded polystyrene, which is a petroleum-based plastic,” said ETSU EcoNut Bethany Braden. “Yes, Styrofoam is made from plastic. Hard to believe, right? Well it is made with tons of chemicals as well. Therefore, making it non-biodegradable and very harmful for the environment.”
About 11 on-campus residents make up the ETSU EcoNuts. These students raise issues about the environment and encourage their peers to recycle and conserve water and energy.
“Over a billion pounds of the product is produced each year,” Braden said. “That is about 157 million a month and about 36 million a week, which comes out to around 5 million in a single day.”