Long Time Coming


Going Green

By Jim Bona

(Hamilton, NY – April 2011) It has been a long time coming. Too long. But finally, I just completed a promise that I made a good while ago.

In a column that I wrote in July of 2008, I talked about recycling Styrofoam. Ever since that time, I have been collecting any Styrofoam that we have acquired. It came from a number of sources: the bottoms of the trays that meat is packaged from the supermarket, packing peanuts, coolers, take-out food and doggie bags from restaurants.

Not wanting to bring home much Styrofoam, I even tried to convince the take out places to let me bring my own containers, but no, seems that there are health regulations that have to be followed that prohibit that. (Grrr)! To complicate this high mission, the project was compounded by my inherent desire to accumulate “stuff” and my wife’s mission to try to not let said “stuff” grow to unmanageable proportions.  And that was the major problem: Styrofoam takes up a lot of space!

As you can well imagine, over almost three years, the Styrofoam added up. By the time I got sufficiently motivated, I had four very large filled garbage bags. I tried to compress it as much as possible by breaking it down so it would fit better and also nesting the containers, but it all still filled the car when we finally drove up to Utica to drop it off at Meyda Lighting on Oriskany Boulevard. It was a sort of “religious pilgrimage.” (You have probably figured out by now that I am just a recycling freak).

Even though there is no official way that Styrofoam is reclaimed from the waste stream, it is something that has been bugging me for a long time. Since it can’t be broken down like other materials can, it just doesn’t go away, even when it is put into the landfill. I resolved to not throw mine into the garbage and save it for the day when I could go up to Utica and bring it to Meyda.

I called ahead, even though it wasn’t necessary, and talked with a nice lady who was quite helpful. When we arrived at the store, which was easy to find, and went inside, a gracious gentleman lit up with a huge smile when I said I had four big bags of Styrofoam to drop off.

We combined the trip with some other shopping destinations and had a delightful lunch at a Lebanese bakery/restaurant that is just around the corner from Meyda called Karam’s Middle East Bakery on Campbell Avenue, which made the trip even more worthwhile and memorable. (Great food! Go)!

I am sure you are thinking, why waste gas to drive to drop off Styrofoam? As we combined many other stops, I think we did okay.

If you want to start your own Styrofoam project, you could start saving clean Styrofoam until you achieve critical mass. Even better: involve a couple friends with the same passion so when you have a bunch, one trip can move it all at one time. (You could even go out for lunch.) It wasn’t a big deal, but I sure felt better after the mission was completed. Like I said, it was a long time coming.


Jim Bona is a technician at Colgate and also a Trustee of the Village of Hamilton. He can be reached at:  jbona@mail.colgate.edu



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