Don’t stop at ditching your straw

Avery Boulware, Campus Carrier Managing Editor

I have a dangerous habit during the summer of stopping for an iced coffee almost every day. If you’re like me, you may have noticed that there was an increase in paper straws or “adult sippy cup” lids at your local coffee shop. 

Ditching straws is the latest feel-good trend sweeping the country. The city of Seattle has even banned them completely. New York City and several California cities have proposed legislation to do the same. Big names like Chelsea Clinton, Russell Crowe and Tom Brady are all on board with the #StopSucking trend. 

But how helpful is forgoing straws, in reality? 

Straws and drink stirrers ranked seventh on the list of the most commonly-found trash items during beach cleanups, according to the Ocean Conservancy’s 2017 Coastal Cleanup Report, only accounting for about 3 percent of total trash. Not only that, but many sources say the new lids use the same amount of plastic, if not more, than the old straw and lid combo. 

Of course, many point to not only the danger of the amount of plastic straws that are not properly disposed, but the danger of the shape of straws. A graphic video of a marine biologist pulling a straw out of a turtle’s nose went viral earlier this year, which seems to have sparked this straw stigma. Some environmentalists are worried that this conservation kick will end with plastic straws. 

In psychology, this is called a negative spillover effect: people feel so good about making the decision to ditch straws that they don’t feel the need to put effort in further conservation. 

My call to action is this: cut out straws if you want. But don’t stop there. Take a reusable bag to the grocery store instead of using the store’s plastic bags. Take a second to eat at the Dining Hall instead of taking to-go boxes and plastic cups. Bring your own mug to Starbucks or ask for a mug at Swift & Finch if you’re staying to do homework. 

If you must use a to-go box, or to-go cup however, make the effort to recycle them. Have a separate trash can in your dorm for recyclables. Most of the dumpster locations on campus have a separate place to throw recycling, so make use of it. 

If you do take these steps though, make sure they count. Rinse out your Coke cans and pizza boxes. If food is left in containers once they are thrown in the recycling bin, not only is that container no longer recyclable, but everything else in the recycling bin is now contaminated, as well. 

But, if you really want to use a straw to enjoy your iced coffee, I’ll choose to look the other way.

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