Styrofoam– So Last Year!

image courtesy of Ryan Carkhuff

Zach Devita-Paulson (

This year, Upper Wismer made the decision to phase out styrofoam takeout trays, implementing reusable plastic containers instead. Some students believe the measure  was long overdue. Serena Rose Gaskin ‘22 said, “I was someone who, like many other students, was concerned about all the styrofoam usage that was happening at the school.” 

Ursinus centers its curriculum around a core set of questions, including, “How should we live together?” So, the new plastic container system only seems natural when considering the massive amount of styrofoam waste produced since the take-out system was implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gaskin explained, “Me personally, I think it’s really great … I was surprised at how many people were taking advantage of it too. It’s a nice thing.” She also talked about the swap-out option that Wismer offers. “I think it’s interesting that students can switch out their containers, so if you bring yours back clean, you can get a fresh one.” Before she finished, she conjectured, “Curious enough, they don’t do it with cups.” 

Elliot Hannam, ‘24, expressed his concern about the extra time it takes to clean the container after each use, especially when he is pressed for time between classes. “I get that you need to remove the bigger chunks of food, but it is a little bit tedious.” Despite this, he does appreciate the reduced waste. “I do like that we’re not polluting as much anymore and that we’re reusing things.” 

Hannam also said that the new system forces him to pay more attention to his eating habits. “The inability to have multiple boxes at once kind of forced me to organize my food – eating a bit more, since I can’t really take out any leftovers, but that’s a good thing since there’s less food waste.”

Students seem pleased overall with the college’s environmentally-conscious decision, seeing the plastic containers as a step in the right direction toward answering the questions at the heart of our Quest Curriculum. With just a simple signature on the sign-up sheet, these to-go containers are available at the front entrance of Upper Wismer to all students, staff, and faculty to use at their convenience.