Student Perspective: Finding Alternatives for Polystyrene Containers

When my family orders takeout from local restaurants, there are times when the food comes in StyrofoamTM containers. StyrofoamTM is expandable polystyrene (EPS), a synthetic aromatic polymer, which is made by expanding molecules and molding them into shapes, such as disposable cups, containers and plates. Although EPS is an inexpensive, convenient option, it has harmful repercussions for our environment.

Polystyrene containers that show up as litter reach storm drains, eventually making their way to oceans and other wildlife habitats. EPS particles from this litter are small enough for marine life and other animals to consume, eventually resulting in population decrease due to the carcinogenic and neurotoxic properties of EPS. This impact does not affect wildlife only—the consequences can extend to humans.

Brookline has eliminated such harmful material from takeout containers. In Newton, our Rumford
Ave. Resource Recovery Center supports an Alliance of Foam Packaging Recyclers, which maintains a mail-back program for expanded EPS packaging. The Center, located at 115 Rumford Ave. in Auburndale, is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30am- 2:30pm, except holidays.

Recycling isn’t the only alternative—next time you order takeout choose biodegradable options such as compostable paper, plastics and aluminum or better yet, consider bringing a reusable container with you to benefit our environment.

by Aishwarya Rajapur, Newton South High School Student