Hillel Ditches Polystyrene Dishes In Favor of Compostables, Recyclables

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By Senaya Savir, staff writer, @SenayaSavir

New Eco-Friendly Dishes

After decades of relying on cheap but planet-harming polystyrene, Maryland Hillel began using recyclable and compostable dishes, pictured above in the Hillel cafeteria, this semester. The switch carries increased costs in the tens of thousands of dollars, Maryland Hillel Director of Operations Allison Buchman said in an interview. Dovid Fisher/Mitzpeh

Following the trend of the eco-friendly initiative at this university, Maryland Hillel switched from polystyrene plates to more environmentally safe plates and cups this semester.

Even though these recyclables won’t necessarily be recycled, Allison Buchman, director of operations at Hillel, said there is a point to making this green switch. Buchman said the new plates and cups can be thrown away and decomposed unlike the previously used polystyrene plates.

“It is not that they need to be recycled, but that they break down into organic material and won’t sit in a landfill for many years,” Buchman said.

The switch was not an easy one to make, said Buchman, who oversees all of the administrative actions of Hillel.

“We have been thinking about this for years [and] even applied for some grants which didn’t come through,” Buchman said. “The country passed legislation which fits into our own values of ecology and the environment.”

Ahron Guttman, a junior government and politics major, serves on the Hillel dining committee and said he spoke to a few of the Hillel staff members about becoming more eco-friendly in the past.

Guttman said he dines at Hillel about two times a week and noticed the change right away.

“Other students are happy [about Hillel’s decision],” Guttman said. “They feel better about it. I am very pleased with the decision.”

The change means an increase in spending for Hillel.

“This is an increased cost of tens of thousands of dollars we now need to absorb and cover,” Buchman said.

However, Buchman said this is the beginning of Hillel making more environmentally conscious decisions. Students noticed and are excited about the change.

Aaron Yitzhaky, a sophomore and kinesiology major, agrees that Hillel’s switch from polystyrene dishes was a great decision.

“As a Jewish community who applauds itself for having high morals, it is only proper for us to say we have taken a green initiative,” Yitzhaky said.

Yitzhaky said he believes even though the cost of using recyclable materials may be significantly higher, the long term benefits to the environment surely outweigh any negative aspects of the decision.

“Hillel is making the statement to create a more environmental friendly atmosphere,” Yitzhaky said.

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