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CMN Student Club Leads Efforts to Discourage Use of Polystyrene

 

The next time you plan a picnic or party, think about ways to reduce litter and help the environment. That's been the goal of a student organization that is addressing the problem on an institutional scale, and their work has paid off.

 

In keeping with its commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship, the College of Menominee Nation is taking action to reduce and eliminate the use at campus activities of extruded polystyrene products, commonly known by the brand name Styrofoam. CMN’s new policy statement follows a year-long collaborative effort by students, faculty and staff to bring the College’s purchasing policies more in line with both institutional and community values.

 

The charge, finalized in December, was led by the College’s SEEDS Club (Strategies for Ecological Education, Diversity and Sustainability) with support from CMN’s Sustainable Development Institute. The rationale for a ban includes a number of both cultural and scientific reasons, including harm to wildlife that may ingest the product, its extreme lack of biodegradability and low feasibility for recycling. Earliest estimates put the biodegradability of polystyrene at 500 years, with others extending to as much as a million.

 

“As Menominee, we’re taught that we have an inherent responsibility to protect the land we live on,” says Jasmine Neosh, SEEDS Club President and enrolled Menominee tribal member. “The College has an amazing reputation for environmental sustainability and stewardship, both from our indigenous and non-indigenous allies. It only makes sense that we would put that into practice. I am glad to see so much support for this going all the way to the top.”

 

Following the adoption of this policy, the College is now asking vendors and event organizers to refrain from bringing polystyrene cups, plates and other products for use on its Keshena and Green Bay campuses.