Four years ago, Wendy Vichick of the Green Team at First Congregational church had the idea to start a styrofoam drive in Western Springs in order to promote recycling in the community. Many community members had thought that styrofoam was biodegradable, however that is not the case.
“We realized that most people did not know that [styrofoam] cannot be recycled,” Vichick said. “It just ends up in our landfills.”
In order to kickstart their styrofoam campaign, Vichick and co-chair Richard Kassner contacted the Village of Western Springs and enlisted in their help to start styrofoam collections. They now take place on the first Saturday of the month at the Grand Ave. Community Center.
“It has been very successful,” Vichick said. “We probably collected enough last month to fill a 20 by 20 foot truck.”
Styrofoam takes nearly 500 years to decompose, and is a persistent source of pollution near water sources, Vichick said. Although it can never fully be broken down, it can be reused into other things; Dart Corporation in Aurora helps with that.
“The people at Dart use the recycled styrofoam and turn it into smaller pellets that can be made into other products,” Vichick said. “The main one is cafeteria trays, which are reusable.
Vichick is hoping to continue the program for a long time, and expands to involve different groups from around the community, such as church or scout groups. However, the 9am to noon time slot has apparently not been enough for the community, she said.
“Everyone who has come and dropped off their styrofoam has been very appreciative of our efforts and hopes that this will continue,” Vichick said. “But, our collection has been so great that the location for collecting may be changing to better meet our needs.” PP The collection will continue through March, and started October 7. Kassner– the other co-chair of the green team– will be at each collection of styrofoam to aid the process, he said. PP “For the short term, it is great if people are aware of the collections and take the time to collect and deliver the Styrofoam to the recyclers,” Recycling club sponsor William Meuer said. “I truly applaud their efforts. But for many people, that process is too inconvenient and most will opt to trash the styrofoam.”