The anatomy of a problem.

Valued for its lightweight durability and competitive price point, expanded polystyrene—commonly known as Styrofoam—is a popular material for disposable cups, plates, and take-out food containers. Less common than the sight of Styrofoam in Montreal’s restaurant industry, however, is the knowledge that this petroleum-derived material is rarely recycled and can take up to millions of years to biodegrade.

Located in the EV Junction at Concordia University, the installation pictured questions the logic in using a long-lasting, environmentally-destructive material for single-use disposable products.

While many may already feel uncomfortable with the pervasiveness of throwaway Styrofoam, this discomfort often comes accompanied by a sense of powerlessness. But pathways for action do exist, and can be followed by those interested in creating a movement of authentic resistance.

As part of a course on community engagement, we developed a nonlinear methodology for addressing issues of public concern. Eight paths for action constitute our methodology as laid out in a map, annotated to reflect the lessons we learned applying this methodology to the issue of single-use styrofoam in restaurants.

Explore the Map

To learn more about our research + process, click here.

This project was a collaborative effort between by Danielle Sherrill, Sévan Belleau, and Madelyn Capozzi.