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Run for Sewa helps educate about styrofoam use

October 2019
Run for Sewa helps educate about styrofoam use

Pragya Bhayana, one of the youth volunteers, closed the run by giving a speech encouraging everyone to stop using styrofoam (left).

Sewa International held its 7th annual 5K Run on Saturday August 17, 2019 at Newtown Park in Johns Creek, GA. The run was planned and organized by high schoolers. All of the proceeds went to Camp CADI, a nonprofit camp dedicated to helping sexually abused girls.

Around 180 runners participated. A healthy breakfast and a t-shirt were provided before the run, and two youth volunteers led the runners in a yoga warm-up.

Ms. Amy, the representative from Camp CADI, spoke about the work that Camp CADI does and how the money raised from Sewa Run will directly benefit the girls in the camp.



Pragya Bhayana, one of the youth volunteers, closed the run by giving a speech regarding the use of styrofoam and the negative consequences it has on the environment. She also gave some tips on how these negative impacts can be prevented and provided some alternatives to styrofoam. (See below for tips.) She encouraged everyone to try their best to avoid using styrofoam whenever possible.

It was a great learning process for the entire youth team in planning, booking the location, talking to sponsors, selling tickets, etc. With everyone’s hard work and dedication, the team was able to set up a great event and raise over $7K for an important and wonderful cause.

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The Team:
The run was planned and organized by high schoolers from schools around the area such as South Forsyth, Lassiter, Lambert, and Northview, among many others. At the forefront of the team were Sai Doma, Samay Rapelly, Anvitha Bommineni, Sanjay Srikakulapu, and Aditi Yellu, as well as Vikas Arora (Sewa Atlanta Chapter Coordinator) and Vishwanath Koppaka (Sewa International Marketing Director), who were there to guide the kids during the entirety of the process. This year’s Sewa 5K run had several sponsors, with Paramount Software Solutions and Suvidha Grocery as the Gold Sponsors. The team started working on the run at the beginning of this year, following a long journey of hard work until the day of the event.

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Styrofoam, Why you might not want to use it:

Pragya's message:
Hello everyone, my name is Pragya Bhayana and I am a senior a Northview High School. I wanted to take a few minutes to spread awareness about the negative impact Styrofoam has on the environment and what we can do to help. Styrofoam is used all over the country in various forms such as cups, take-out containers, packing peanuts, etc. However, Styrofoam has horrendous effects on the environment and the health of both animals and humans. Using a Styrofoam dish to warm up food can cause toxic chemicals to be released. Styrofoam is made a petroleum-based plastic. It cannot be recycled and around takes five hundred years to decompose, so it essentially stays on earth forever. The best way to regulate and stop the negative effects of Styrofoam is to stop using it. Styrofoam can be replaced by eco-friendly alternatives such as materials that are renewable and biodegradable. Recyclable and biodegradable materials do not pose serious health and environmental threats as Styrofoam does. Some eco-friendly alternatives to Styrofoam include paper, bamboo, corn plastic, sugar cane, and cornstarch. Many restaurants such as Chipotle are already using environmentally friendly materials. I know it is hard to make a big change, but I have implemented this in my life and I hope you will be mindful about using Styrofoam in the future as well. Thank you for your time.

Supporting Details:


Health Concerns from Green Cell Atl Facebook page:
Food in styrofoam containers can be contaminated by chemicals that leach into the food, affecting human health and the reproductive systems. Styrofoam is made using the monomer, Styrene, a lab animal carcinogen and a possible human carcinogen and neurotoxin. Styrene can migrate from polystyrene containers into food and beverages when heated, or in contact with fatty or acidic foods. Styrofoam does not breakdown easily and it releases chemicals when it gets wet that contaminate water that touches it, thus contaminating our water supply.

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Environmental Concerns include Recycling Difficulties:
It is best to call your local recycling centers to see if they can recycle it, but most cannot. DeKalb County, for example, lists “Polystyrene cups and to go trays” under Unacceptable Items. So if you put it in the curbside recycling container, it causes problems in the recycling process. If you put it in the garbage, it piles up in the landfill; some sources say it takes 50 years to decompose and other sources say it never really decomposes and goes away!. Americans throw away 25 million Styrofoam cups on average each year, so that’s a lot in the landfill. These are other reasons to avoid using it.

Have you stopped using Styrofoam❓ Here are tips:

At Home
Always use plastic or glass reusable cups at home. This will greatly cut down on the amount of Styrofoam cups you use throughout the day. If you pack a lunch for work or school, include a plastic cup in the lunch bag. If you do not have a way to wash the plastic cup at school or work, bring it home with you each day and repack it in your next lunch after washing.

On the Go
Many companies manufacture reusable travel cups and mugs. These cups are typically made from plastic or a ceramic material and work with hot or cold beverages. Once purchased, the cups can be washed and reused. You can fill up a reusable travel cup with coffee or another beverage in the morning and take the cup with you when you leave. Many coffee shops also let you use your own travel mug when you order coffee to go — and charge you less for bringing your own mug, too.

Dining Out
Many fast-food restaurants sell beverages in Styrofoam cups. In most cases, the restaurants also keep a supply of other cups on hand, such as those made from recyclable plastic or paper. When you order food at a fast-food restaurant, ask for your drink in a plastic or paper cup. If the restaurant only sells Styrofoam cups, they may allow you to fill your drink using your own cup if they offer a self-serve drinking station. However, not all restaurants allow you to use outside eating or drinking utensils.

In the Outdoors
For outdoor events like picnics or camping, it may not always be practical to carry your own reusable utensils. Some eco-conscious companies sell disposable cups, plates, bowls and utensils made from natural materials such as corn or bamboo. These materials decompose quickly, making them easier on the environment than a Styrofoam cup. If you must use disposable cups, look for products made from organic, biodegradable materials.

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