There are many perks to living on Eastern Michigan University’s campus: The people are life-changing, everything is within a 15-minute walk and the squirrels are friendly. Yet one of the biggest and, in my very humble opinion, underappreciated perks is Golden Wall, the Chinese restaurant just off campus at 421 W. Cross St.
I’m partial to their delicious General Tso’s combo. I fear, however, that I need to stop giving them my business. My qualm is not with their food, but rather what they choose to package it in: Styrofoam. Now to be fair, though much to my chagrin, many other local places use the white material, including EMU.
The ubiquitous material known as Styrofoam, which is actually a trademarked name for polystyrene products, is ideal for food transportation: It’s cheap, lightweight and easily dispensed.
Clearly, cheapness is not a reason to disregard its significant downsides, though. Heck, McDonald’s phased out its use of Styrofoam containers roughly two decades ago.
Mercury News reported Feb. 25 that San Jose, Calif., is considering banning the annoying-sounding material. Those arguing in favor of the ban are bashing Styrofoam because it is detrimental to the environment, is not biodegradable, harms animals and plants, is toxic to humans and is rapidly filling our landfills. The last is a rarely acknowledged reality, but Mercury News points out San Jose’s
landfills are projected to fill by 2022.
Undoubtedly, I acknowledge the need for cheap packaging (though admittedly, less so for huge companies or organizations like EMU than small businesses like Golden Wall). Yet “cheap” simply means the cost is being passed to something other than our pocketbooks.
In this case, our health, environment, animals, water sources and our Earth, in general.
What’s worse is the intransigence of those using it. I asked a worker at Golden Wall if he could provide me with a more environmentally-friendly alternative to Styrofoam. His response? Eat-in or don’t get delivery. I think to respond with the former is fair, but surely there is a happier medium.
One need only perform a simple Google Search of “alternatives to Styrofoam” to see there are plenty of options to choose from. For EMU particularly, being a model for its students should be paramount.
I am not by any stretch of the imagination an environmental activist. I am, however, a reasonable person who sees the tremendous damage one material can do to…well, everything. I urge the readers of this article to challenge the institutions they monetarily support to stop using Styrofoam and to cut down on personal usage of it themselves.
For my small part, I will not be ordering delivery from Golden Wall unless they stop putting their delicious food in Styrofoam. I suppose if I want the General Tso’s, I’ll have to walk to Cross Street and dine-in. I could probably use the exercise anyway.
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