Baylor fraternity goes green for annual Island celebration

Photo Illustration by Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor
Photo Illustration by Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

By Jordan Hearne

Baylor will host its first on-campus plastic foam-free event at 5:30 p.m. on Friday at the Brothers Under Christ Island Party.

Each year, Chick-fil-A partners with BYX to provide food at the annual Island Party, where they serve sandwiches, bottled water and sweet tea.

In order to make the event green, David Depuma, vice president of BYX, worked with Chick-fil-A and convinced them to get rid of the plastic foam cups used to sell tea.

“I was afraid of resistance and named other options, like substituting paper cups for the foam ones,” Depuma said.

After that idea was rejected, the company and Depuma finally came to an agreement that no tea would be served at this year’s event, eliminating the need for plastic foam cups.

The idea to make the event green was an effort to make this year’s Island Party stand out from past productions.

Depuma said that he saw various options to make the party different from previous Island Parties and thought going green would be a great opportunity.

In an effort to be as eco-friendly as possible, there will also be recycling bins placed throughout the event to encourage students to discard their trash in a way that helps campus sustainability.

Smith Getterman, Baylor sustainability coordinator, said that creating a plastic foam-free environment is beneficial to the planet because it keeps this material out of landfills.

“Plastic foam has a long shelf life and stays in landfills for a very long time,” Getterman said. “In my opinion, plastic foam is the most evil of all things.”

The Earth Resource Foundation, a nonprofit organization developed to teach the public how to make environmentally sustainable choices and changes, said that polystyrene make up plastic foam containers, makes up between 25 and 30 percent of space in landfills occupied by plastic products.

The foundation also said production of polystyrene products is also harmful to the environment because the creation of polystyrene releases hydrocarbons into the atmosphere that mix with nitrogen oxides and form an ozone pollutant. Human health can also be affected by the use of polystyrene products.

The National Bureau of Standards Center for Fire Research discovered that 57 different chemical byproducts are released in the combustion of plastic foam, and containers can be directly harmful to humans as toxic chemicals can leach out of the container and into the food, especially when heated, threatening health as a possible carcinogen.

Getterman said that the mission of Baylor Sustainability is to be stewards of the care and conservation of creation, and that holding events that do not have plastic foam as an option makes a huge impact.

“As a university, we need to move away from plastic foam,” Getterman said. “It is irresponsible to continue using it on campus.”

Depuma said the steps required to make on-campus productions environmentally safe are easy and he encouraged other organizations to adopt eco-friendly practices at their events.

“If you can be green, why not? It was fairly simple,” Depuma said. “The most difficult part was getting Chick-fil-A to agree to our policy, but it really hasn’t been hard at all.”