Janice Chung

Artist Statement

Globe installation for environmental awareness


Every year, Americans throw away about 2.5 billion Styrofoam cups, enough to circle the world 436 times. Though we are aware of similar statistics concerning sustainability, a visual depiction is often more jarring than a lengthy pamphlet.

Notre Dame prides itself on being a green school, but how many of us practice what we preach? Coffee and tea are popular daily purchases on a college campus, and despite the fact that discounts are offered to customers who use their own thermoses, the majority of people choose to pay extra for the familiar Styrofoam cups next to the coffee dispensers. The dining hall, which urges students to finish their meals and recycle, has an abundance of Styrofoam cups for students to use at their disposable.

It is possible to recycle foam, but the environmental costs to do so outweigh the production costs. Though it is extremely lightweight, it is very bulky and quickly filling up landfills. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has also recently recognized styrene, a key ingredient in the manufacturing of Styrofoam, as a carcinogen, which prompts further concerns about health implications.

Several colleges, such as the University of Amherst, have decided to implicate a foam ban, a decision that Notre Dame should also consider. It is not enough to focus on one aspect of sustainability yet ignore another. If we truly wish to be an environmentally conscious university, we must deliberately make efforts to enforce change in our community.

436. Think about that the next time you get your caffeine fix.