On March 10th, the Colgate University Student Government Association (SGA) unanimously passed both a resolution and bill against Styrofoam. The bill, acting to change bylaws pertaining to the Budget Allocation Committee, prohibits BAC-funded student groups from using BAC-funding to purchase Styrofoam. This means when student groups host events and order pizza and drinks for pickup or delivery, there has to be explicit notice given to the vendor that Styrofoam cups or plates should not be provided. The resolution informs all Colgate departments and offices that the student body dissuades the use of Styrofoam and suggests action to reduce Styrofoam purchasing.
Why should we be excited about this? This is an exciting step our SGA has taken because Styrofoam is identified as the fifth largest contributor to waste in the environment. Styrofoam is a non-biodegradable substance, meaning that it is able to last in a landfill forever. Unfortunately, it is believed that an estimated 30 percent of our nation’s landfills are made up of this material. Not only does Styrofoam have negative impacts on our environment, but it also negatively impacts our bodies. A major component of Styrofoam is styrene, which was identified as a potential carcinogen and neurotoxin by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) several decades ago. Additional chemicals found in Styrofoam have been known to leach into food and beverages as it is heated up in the Styrofoam leading to the human ingestion of these chemicals. According to EPA studies, Styrene is now found in 100 percent of the fat tissues sampled from every U.S. citizen, including children.
This bill and resolution builds momentum towards the ultimate action that should be taken: a campus-wide Styrofoam ban and ban within the town of Hamilton itself. With reusable, recyclable, and biodegradable offered at comparable prices, there is no need for Styrofoam anymore. There are many colleges, universities, cities, counties and even states that have already banned Styrofoam. New York City, for example announced a ban that will go into effect July 1, 2015. Stores, food service establishments and manufacturers will no longer be able to possess, sell or offer single-use Styrofoam containers, cups or packing peanuts. We should follow NYC’s lead and institute a similar ban; however, we are proud SGA has taken such an action to reduce Styrofoam consumption on campus.