Seton Hall students and faculty of are looking for an impactful outcome from a petition for a campus-wide ban on Styrofoam, and specifically at the campus Dunkin’ Donuts, which received over 250 signatures so far.
The petition, which was created six months ago, aims to ban all Styrofoam on campus.
The petition states that by signing “students are requesting that all Styrofoam containers be eliminated on campus.” The petition stresses that there are eco-friendly alternatives to Styrofoam, which do biodegrade and are not toxic to animals and the planet.
Julia Nicolls, founder and commissioner of the Environmental Protection and Conservation Commission (EPACC), is co-sponsoring the petition.
EPACC is an executive agency within the Student Government Association that “aims to create a more sustainable culture” at Seton Hall’s campus.
Nicolls said that Seton Hall administration needs to improve their outlook on the situation and that environmentalism is becoming more of a need of the SHU student body.
Nicolls’ goal is to go above the required signature count—which she finds is “extremely tangible”—as the student body needs to emphasize the elimination of all Styrofoam usage on campus.
Dunkin’ Donuts locations in New York were forced to eliminate Styrofoam after a legal battle with the city, which leads Nicolls to believe that Dunkin’ Donuts can run a successful shop without the use of Styrofoam, proving that this initiative is not an impossible task.
Nicolls pointed out that the uniqueness of this petition requires that the leaders of the movement must work with Seton Hall policy, along with Dunkin’ Donuts policy.
Violet Reed, former vice president of SGA, previously attempted to achieve this goal two years ago through Blue Goes Green, however, the movement proved fruitless.
Nicolls claimed there was a dead end with the initiative while it was under Blue Goes Green. Since Blue Goes Green has been adopted by EPACC, Nicolls promised that the ban on Styrofoam “will never be a question of when is the right time, rather it is always going to be the right time.”
Wanda Knapik, a full-time professor for the Environmental studies program in the College of Arts and Sciences, and adviser to the Ecology Club, Nature Explorers and the Veggie Society, commented on the petition.
Knapik is also the Program Director for Growing a Greener Campus and the Sustainability Office of Facilities and Engineering.
While in support this petition, Knapik also stands for banning Styrofoam everywhere beyond campus.
However, she also emphasized that every student should not be waiting for things to change outside themselves. Knapik stated that students need to “point their finger at themselves” in order to change their behavior: “Be the example, be the change.”
In order to be the example students should reuse existing plastic and Styrofoam or bring your their own containers to fill.
When asked whether this petition will lead to a single-use plastic ban, Knapik responded that a petition is simply one small step in the direction for success in environmental movements.
Knapik reiterated that these steps are made through the students changing their behavior, while including faculty too.
Approximately a year ago, Gourmet Dining Services (GDS) worked with SGA to eliminate Styrofoam on campus, which was accomplished with only one exception.
GDS commented that the campus Dunkin’ Donuts is the only remaining place on campus which uses Styrofoam. In addition, GDS stated that the use of Styrofoam at the campus Dunkin’ Donuts is out of their control, as it is mandated for SHU—a franchisee—to order and use only Dunkin’ Donuts’ products.
GDS added that Dunkin’ Donuts introduced a plan to provide double-walled paper cups in place of the Styrofoam which is implemented in 30% of US locations, but GDS is uncertain of an exact change over date for the campus location.
GDS stated that Dunkin’ Donuts is planning to replace Styrofoam in the remaining 70% of its US market within the next year.
GDS expressed that they introduced environmentally friendly initiatives in the past and are willing to continue to address the vital concerns of the student-body through an open dialogue.
Students on campus have shown support of the petition.
Frank Mabalatan, vice president of the Student Government Association and advisor of EPACC believes a ban on Styrofoam will set a precedent for future environmental standards on campus.
In order to reach that future, Mabalatan states that a collective consciousness about sustainability is necessary.
Saveria Antonacci, a diplomacy and international relations major, agrees that the campus-wide ban on Styrofoam is necessary.
Antonacci added that the bright side is if this petition proves to be successful, it will pave the way to encourage other students to start environmental petitions.
Judy Koren can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.