Earth Matters by Jacqueline Milner – Are you being responsible with your Garbage? November 28, 2011

CFN – Are you and your organization being responsible?  I attended a fundraiser for a local non-profit organization which included a luncheon.  The lunch was served on Styrofoam plates, with plastic cutlery which was wrapped in a plastic bag, a plastic cup of water and condiment items were served in plastic bowls.  The meal was topped off with pie served on a Styrofoam plate.  Tea and coffee was available in Styrofoam cups.Using disposable plates and cutlery is the norm for many such social and fundraising events.  There are also busy households who take advantage of the cheap easily accessible supply of these products to eliminate the clean up time of the daily dinner routine.  It is understandable why organizations and individuals take advantage of these cheap, time saving tools however these short term solutions can and are presenting us with environmental challenges. According to information on, Washington University states that “Styrofoam takes 500 years to decompose; it cannot be recycled, so the Styrofoam materials dumped in landfills are there to stay.  With enough Styrofoam cups produced each day to circle the earth if lined up end to end, the potential for major ecological impact is great.”

Further information on indicates the manufacture of Styrofoam releases large amounts of ozone into our atmosphere to the detriment of our air quality.  In addition Styrofoam products are having a tremendous impact on our land fill sites as it has been reported by Recycling Revolution “that packaging materials such as Styrofoam fill up 30 percent of our landfill space.  Another note of interest is that Five percent of the world’s population (U.S. being the largest trash producer according to this site, guessing Canadians are in line if not on par with Americans) generate 40 percent of the world’s trash.  Other information noted the United Kingdom and Hong Kong as largest garbage producers.  I don’t think that any one country is in a race to claim this title.  It is estimated that each North American puts out about 5 pounds of trash a day.  This adds up to about a ton of trash per person per year.  WOW!  Something has got to give!  It is very evident that we, each individual person needs to do their own part to reverse these disturbing trends.

It has been suggested that the Styrofoam be incinerated however this releases over ninety different toxins including dioxin which raises cancer risk.  While it might seem obvious that using a paper product would be a better alternative, this site indicates when considering the inputs and outputs for either end product the associated environmental impacts of either are not sound.  So what does one do?

REFUSE to use.  This is can be easier said then done.  If you are prepared, I was not on this day, one can use their own reusable cup, cutlery and plate and enjoy their meal on the go, guilt-free.

Choose eggs in a cardboard container rather than Styrofoam.  Ok, maybe the paper container uses as many resources as the Styrofoam container.  The cardboard container will disintegrate during my life time as opposed to the alternative.

Take your reusable beverage container in for your liquids on the run.  Over a year this makes a big difference.

Consider eating in rather than ordering out to avoid waste.  If this is not possible, order something that offers the least amount of waste.  If you are prepared for a take-out scenario you can have your reusable containers with you for filling.

Think about carrying a “responsible kit” with you on all occasions.  Include a reusable cup, cloth napkin, cutlery, chop sticks, plate, bowl, clean bulk containers and some bags.  Add items as your lifestyle dictates.

Consider buying some items in bulk, filling your own containers.  This can divert a tremendous load from your trash over the year.

Consider skipping purchases because of excessive or non earth-friendly packaging.  Fresh produce packaged in Styrofoam and plastic gets a big thumb down in my book.

Do give yourself a big pat on the back each time you make a choice to be a better friend to our living earth and in turn, our community.  Thank you!

If you or someone you know makes conscience choices in their business to serve in an earth responsible manner please write and let us know about it.  We would like the opportunity to talk about their efforts here and hopefully have their story blaze a trail for others to follow.  Your commentary is encouraged and always appreciated below or to


  1. My family has bought a bunch of wicker type plates that offers support to paper plates used for bar b q’s etc.but ease of serving and clean up are uppermost in my mind as weekends are too

    I have been a volunteer in events serving over 150 people, and that alternative has never been discussed, maybe it needs to be. However, food safety rules & guidelines may be a real hurdle…..

  2. What food safety rules and guidelines are you concerned about @ Eric. Perhaps I can answer some questions for you. I have made some inquires.

  3. I am not really concerned, and it hurts to me say this, but the Ministry of Health (Eastern Ontario Health Unit) could promote / push less garbage during it’s food handling course or during inspections.

    An enterprising resturant business or individual could rent out plates / glassware / cutlery – delivery pick-up & wash – even. There must be a worker or two that would like those hours!
    You dirty them / I wash them / we all help the enviorment! The first slogan is free ha ha

  4. It is nice to consider changing the amount of waste we produce. It makes it difficult when our economy and government revolves off of the revenue earned from the garbage.

    Would it not be better to bag it and send it to Mc Guinty or Kilger. It would help to encourage change.

    An example, In many cities government has passed laws eliminating the use fo plastic grocery bags. Here they still litter the roadways. Why is it even an issue when you see the results of using the bags?

Leave a Reply