Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why Christ Church Cathedral is banning polystyrene (aka: styrofoam)

Last Thursday, the Cathedral Chapter voted unanimously to ban the use of all styrofoam products related to all food service on church property effective March 1, 2012. This was in response to a proposal brought to Chapter by Cathedral member Barbi Click, who writes this explanation of why we have taken this important step. Many thanks, Barbi!

Why are we banning polystyrene (aka Styrofoam)? Because we are stewards of this creation, what we do…or don’t do…matters. God created an ideal world, complete with everything needed to sustain life and allow it to thrive. While polystyrene (aka Styrofoam) products are incredibly convenient and inexpensive in the short run, these are not conducive to the idea of sustaining or the thriving of life.

Polystyrene is made from petroleum. The production of one ton of the foam requires 685 US gallons of oil, emits 20,000 tons of CO2 and over 2000 tons of greenhouse gases. In the production process, benzene, a carcinogenic chemical, is used. Due to its presence, food in direct contact with the polystyrene packing can be affected. More than 20 cities in the United States have banned the use of expanded polystyrene for food packaging.

It does not biodegrade without a suitable solvent. In fact, it has the durability to remain intact for hundreds of years. This is important to know because people in the US alone throw away 25,000,000,000 styrofoam cups every year. Those cups that make it into the landfill, take up a lot of space, estimated at 30% of the space in landfills worldwide. Many end up in our sewer systems and waterways doing harm to marine life and wildlife by slowly starving to death animals that ingest it.
Due to the fact that polystyrene is expensive to recycle, few waste companies will do so. For those companies that will recycle Styrofoam, the requirements for those wishing to do so are cost and time prohibitive for most individuals and organizations.

It is with all of this in mind that Christ Church Cathedral Chapter decided to join other parishes within the Diocese to prohibit the use of polystyrene/Styrofoam for food service at all functions, public or private.

(This information comes from a variety of sources, including but not limited to the US Environmental Protection Agency,, and the Green Restaurant Association)


  1. Way to go! So glad there are churches in St. Louis thinking about such things!

  2. The concern for our environment here is nice to see. However, there is a lot more to this than polystyrene not being able to biodegrade. Looking at the manufacturing of the paper containers, finds that it is much more damaging to our environment then polystyrene is by a considerable amount. Both the paper products and polystyrene are difficult to recycle, however in my medium size town there are 10 places that you can drop off polystyrene for reuse in packaging. The Starbucks ones can't because of the liner. I realize that most people will just end up dumping this in the garbage. Modern landfills are designed not to let things biodegrade (so paper will always be paper in a landfill). This is a good thing, and is done so that the paper does not release methane gas, which is damaging to our ozone. In my city our garbage is incinerated. The polystyrene releases considerable more energy than paper, which we transform into heat and power.
    I love my earth. Let’s be smart and save it!

  3. Styrofoam is constructed out of foamed polystyrene as well as was created in The early 1940's by Dew A lab. Whenever you pick up a sheet of Styrofoam it's going to appear very weak and to destroy, actually if you perform break the idea you'll see its crumbly surface. The truth is in the event Styrofoam is definitely and also the proper materials it might be quite strong. Alternative products consist of concrete as well as pressboard.

    Hotwire Cut Styrofoam