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Published: Monday, 2/25/2013

Styrofoam cup changed ways at Sylvania Senior Center

Sylvania Senior Center member Mon Taroy holds an eco-friendly lunch tray and a stack of cups. Sylvania Senior Center member Mon Taroy holds an eco-friendly lunch tray and a stack of cups.
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It all started with a cup  -- a Styrofoam one, nearly weightless and easily transportable.

The administrators at the Sylvania Senior Center were wondering what to do with it. With no recycle bins, and eating meals and snacks on Styrofoam plates, they questioned the best way to minimize the building's waste.

They made the decision to replace the cups with recyclable ones, and have the noon meal served on washable plastic trays. And that was the beginning of their mission to turn down the waste and go green.

The center on Sylvania Avenue last week launched its Go Green initiatives. Partnering with the Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District and Keep Lucas County Beautiful, the administrators educated attendees of the Shades of Green Workshop simple changes that could lessen the impact on the Earth. 

“I think it is a wonderful project and we should be more conscious about recycling responsibilities and care for the environment,” said Mon Taroy, president of the center. The center now uses soap dispensers to conserve water, reusable silverware, and emphasizes recycling. It provides environmentally friendly information, giving examples of the earth conscious decisions.

Julie Graf, director, appreciated the knowledge the partners brought to one of the first information sessions.

Representatives of the partnering organizations brought environmentally friendly blankets, made of corn, purses and satchels made of rubber tires. They demonstrated how improved peanuts used for packing beat the stryrofoam competition.

“It was neat to see the packaging peanuts. They were made of corn starch so they dissolved in water,” said Ms. Graf.

They also saw a movie that documented where waste goes when it's thrown out, and how it infiltrates our soil and waterways.

On a different day last week, the center called upon University of Toledo students that take part in the Business Waste Reduction Assistance Program. The students sifted through piles of trash from the center, using a long stick. This was part of an audit to give them a baseline to compare their waste and carbon footprint, and ensure that they are reducing energy use and recycling.

The center plans informative events and educational movies, some for the general public and others its senior patrons. A Go Green Fair is scheduled for June.

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